Turn Out the Lights: FCC Sets Expiration Dates for End of Analog and Out-of-Core LPTV Operations
The FCC has announced the dates by which LPTV stations must cease operating in analog and on the out-of-core channels (Channels 52-69). The deadlines are necessary to accommodate the digital transition of LPTV stations and to make the out-of-core channels available for wireless services in the 700 MHz band.
LPTV stations operating on one of the out-of-core channels must cease operations by December 31, 2011. LPTV stations operating in analog must cease operations by September 1, 2015. As always, LPTV stations must be aware of additional deadlines or else risk losing valuable rights. These deadlines fall into two categories: out-of-core LPTV stations and analog LPTV stations.
To accommodate these new transition dates, the FCC:
● Extended all existing digital construction permits for LPTV stations until September 1, 2015.
● Dismissed applications for new analog low power television facilities that did not request operation on digital facilities by May 24, 2010.
● Determined that if an LPTV station holds a construction permit for an unbuilt analog and unbuilt digital companion channel, and the analog permit expires and is forfeited, the digital permit is also forfeited (notwithstanding the later expiration date on that permit).
The maximum permissible digital Effective Radiated Power (“ERP”) for LPTV stations operating on VHF Channels 2 to 13 is increased to 3 kilowatts. The maximum ERP for LPTV Stations operation on UHF Channels 14 to 51 will remain at 15 kilowatts.
Beginning December 1, 2011, LPTV stations providing ancillary or supplementary services will be required to file the annual Ancillary and Supplementary Services Report (FCC Form 317) and pay a fee of five percent of the gross revenues of any ancillary and supplementary services provided.
While it is understandable that the FCC wants to clear the out-of-core channels to accommodate the new licensees in the 700 MHz band, the timing is unfortunate. If the FCC decides in the future to repackage the in-core channels as part of allocating spectrum for broadband, whether voluntary or otherwise, LPTV stations could find themselves in the undesirable position of having to change channels not once but twice, with the associated costs.
It is important that LPTV stations focus on these expiration deadlines, especially if they are operating in the out-of-core channels. Failure to take timely action may result in LPTV stations finding themselves off the air --- permanently.