FCC relaxes rules for digital TV transition due to testing overlap
The FCC has posted its third periodic review of the rules and policies regarding the conversion from analog to digital television, showing a further degree of slackening in regulations.
In light of FCC commissioner Adelstein's criticism of the transition from analog to digital TV, saying that the Commission lacked a strategic plan, it appears that the FCC is now even becoming hazy on the February 17, 2009 deadline date mandated by Congress.
The date, at 11:59 pm, has been set as the time when full-power television broadcast stations must cease analog operations. But in this third review, the FCC noted that some situations could arise where one station's ability to broadcast is adversely affected by another station's incomplete transition.
They say, for example, that Station A may need to begin testing its digital facility on its post-transition channel, but Station B is already using that channel for pre-transmission service. It would be like needing to close down a major highway to test drive new cars on it.
That potential situation, and ones similar to it, have made it difficult for the FCC to establish concrete regulations regarding the transition.
Therefore, in this latest report, the Commission says it will be granting qualifying stations the ability to make the switch to digital sooner, and other stations the ability to "phase" their transitions to a period well after the deadline.
Forunately, consumers can be ready for the switch in advance of broadcasters. The government subsidized digital-to-analog convertor box program officially began yesterday, in which consumers can request a $40 coupon. Additional details are available at dtv2009.gov.