Thursday, February 12, 2009

FCC Says 128 Stations Can't Go Digital Feb. 17

Earlier this week, nearly 500 TV stations told the Federal Communications Commission they intended to go ahead and switch to digital broadcasts on Feb. 17, the deadline they had been planning on for three years. When Congress delayed the deadline to June 12, the FCC said it reserved the right to prevent stations from switching next week if it posed a public safety threat to particular markets.

Last night, the FCC said that it would not let 123 stations switch on Tuesday. That's mainly because, in some markets, all the major commercial stations were planning on switching. So consumers who aren't yet prepared or are still waiting on coupons to purchase converter boxes could lose access to important public safety information and news alerts.

If stations still want to go ahead and turn off analog signals, they have to do a few things to reassure the FCC that consumers won't be left in the dark. For instance, they have to make sure at least one analog signal is still on the air in the market. And they have to keep some sort of analog signal on for 30 days after they switch in order to air information about the transition and emergency alerts. And they have to step up their public education efforts to make sure viewers are well aware that the switch will indeed happen on Tuesday.

Here's a list of the stations the FCC has concerns about.

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