Digital Transition Could Affect Some Local News Stations
Another aspect about the transition to digital television that hasn't been talked about much is how it will affect some of the smaller stations that often provide local news over analog signals.
Full-powered stations, like the major networks that get picked up by cable and satellite operators, are required to stop broadcasting over analog signals and move to digital programming on Feb. 17, 2009. But low-powered stations aren't required by the FCC to make the switch to digital, largely because they do not have the resources to do so. Congress has allocated $65 million to assist them in the process, but that money won't be available until 2010--a year after the scheduled transition. (Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, has proposed moving the funding date up to 2009 to address this problem.)
Low-powered stations in the D.C. area include WMDO-TV, a Univision affiliate, and W28BY-TV, which airs C-SPAN-like programming.
These stations--there's about 4,700 of them around the country-- typically aren't carried by cable and satellite operators, so they use over-the-air signals to reach people that don't subscribe to cable or satellite service. But many models of new converter boxes turning up in stores now aren't capable of receiving their signals. So these community stations, which typically air hyper-local content, like high-school sports, city council meetings, religious services, weather information and other news, are worried they'll lose their audience.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said this morning he's encouraging cable and satellite operators to carry these low-powered stations, at least until the community channels can make the digital transition. (Right now, there's no hard deadline for them to make the transition). Some cable operators aren't too thrilled by that prospect, since it will cost them extra resources to carry the channels at a time when they're trying to use their capacity to roll out more high-definition channels, on-demand features and new programming.
Martin also said he's encouraging consumer electronics to give converter boxes the capacity to receive the analog signals from these community stations. And he's allowing the stations to apply for additional capacity in order to become full-powered stations, a move he hopes will help give them the resources they need to make the transition. But that could create new competition for the commercial networks, which could spark some resentment from the broadcasters.
It's a complicated situation, but if you want to read more, here's a link to an FCC Web site with more information.
February 8, 2008; 5:39 PM ET
Previous: FCC Chair To Push for Liberty Deal with News Corp. | Next: Blackberry Interruption Due to Tech Upgrade
Get This Widget >>
Blogs That Reference This Entry
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Digital Transition Could Affect Some Local News Stations:
Tracked on March 21, 2008 9:24 PM
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Brian | February 9, 2008 1:00 AM
Posted by: Bob | February 9, 2008 7:34 AM
Posted by: GERALD H. MAURICE | February 9, 2008 11:03 AM
Posted by: To Gerald | February 11, 2008 4:17 PM
Posted by: kevin | February 12, 2008 12:52 PM
Posted by: dave | February 12, 2008 1:27 PM
Posted by: Robert17 | February 13, 2008 3:59 AM
Posted by: James | February 13, 2008 1:08 PM
Posted by: lsl | February 13, 2008 2:21 PM
Posted by: DJim | February 13, 2008 5:06 PM
Posted by: jorge | March 7, 2008 5:49 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.