Interesting idea, to allow analog stations to shutdown before 17 Feb 2009. Although history has shown that most broadcasters are not likely to take such action of their own accord, unless they feel like they have no OTA audience anyway. I agree with Commissioner Copps that a market-by-market approach would have been easier to swallow. Maybe this new latitude will help. Bert ------------------------------------ FCC issues changes for switch to digital television K.C. Jones (01/02/2008 11:38 AM EST) URL: http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=205207178 The Federal Communications Commission has announced rule changes to give broadcasters more flexibility in switching from analog to digital television. The FCC announced changes on New Year's Eve. Under the new rules, broadcasters would be allowed to phase out or end their analog signals before the Feb. 17, 2009, deadline. The FCC also announced, in its third periodic review of the transition plans, that it will begin issuing coupons to help consumers pay for converter boxes. "The commission has made technical adjustments to its rules and policies to enable broadcasters to take the actions necessary to complete the conversion from analog to digital," FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin said in a statement. "As all major changes tend to be, the coming transition to digital television transmission is an exciting -- but complicated -- revolution. The rules we adopt in this item attempt to provide broadcasters the flexibility they need while at the same time ensuring that any disruption to over-the-air viewers is minimized to the fullest extent possible." The commission will require broadcasters to provide progress updates in February and October. "The commission will review this information, assess the progress toward meeting the transition, and take whatever actions are necessary to ensure that the digital transition remains on track," Martin said. "It is by taking concrete steps to advance this transition that we can ensure that the broadcast spectrum is made available as soon as possible for critically important public safety needs and broadband wireless uses." Commissioner Michael Copps criticized the timing of the move. "One year earlier would have been the charm," he said. "Sometimes timing is everything, and here a year's earlier start might have been the difference between a seamless and a chaotic digital TV transition. Had we acted then, we could have established a far more measured and orderly switch-over process, and the difficult trade-offs and compressed schedules contained in this order could have been largely avoided. If a dissent could legitimately be based on frustration at being stuck in this situation, I would dissent today -- I am that frustrated by our inaction." Copps said that since the FCC was "stuck," the order "does an acceptable job of balancing the various technical and policy factors in play. "Unfortunately, at this point, the transition will not be as smooth as it might have been," he said in a statement. "Not every consumer will have access to all of their analog broadcast channels on Feb. 17, 2009. and then wake up happily the next morning to those same stations in digital. There will be some period of time -- perhaps before the transition date and almost certainly after -- in which some stations may not be able to provide service to all of their viewers." Copps said that it is "unfathomable" that the government will block every analog signal in the United States at once without testing the plans. He said other countries, like the United Kingdom and Germany, are making the switch in a more cautious way, going region-by-region over a period of several years. "The lessons learned from those initial test markets doubtless will prove invaluable to those countries' broader transition efforts," he said. "We need some of that real-world experience here. Why in the world aren't we doing that? I am encouraged that the chairman and my colleagues are willing to sit down now and begin exploring the idea of one or more DTV demonstration projects around the country. I recognize there may be legal, technical, and practical challenges with planning and conducting such a test this close to the national transition date. But I believe it can be done. At least -- for the sake of a successful DTV transition -- let's hope it can." All material on this site Copyright 2008 CMP Media LLC. All rights reserved. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.