Digital Transition Date Suspended for LPTV/TV Translators

Posted on May 1st, 2015 by

On its own motion, the FCC’s Media Bureau has suspended the previously established September 1, 2015 deadline for all LPTV or TV Translator stations to transition to digital operation.  The suspension is not indefinite, as it is only in place pending final action in the MB Docket 03-185 rulemaking proceeding.  That proceeding is considering various forms of relief of LPTV and TV translator stations that will potentially be displaced in the incentive auction repacking process.  In the end, it didn’t make sense to require these stations to build out digital facilities when their very existence is threatened, and the solutions for their continued survival are not yet determined.

Importantly, this suspension does not apply to Class A television stations.  Those stations can participate in and are protected in the auction, and the FCC has previously advised them that if digital facilities are not built out by May 29, 2015, the FCC will only value in the auction or protect post-auction the station’s analog coverage area.  Class A stations should take note that any digital permits they hold may have a September 1, 2015 deadline listed on the permit itself, but for valuation/protection purposes, a license to cover the digital permit has to be on file by May 29, 2015, the FCC’s previously announced Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline.