The FCC today released a Public Notice announcing that they are suspending the September digital conversion deadline for LPTV stations. Given the upcoming incentive auction, it seems clear that it makes no sense to force an LPTV station to go digital, when it could be knocked off the air or forced to change channels a few months later as these stations are afforded no protection in the incentive auction and TV spectrum repacking process. As we wrote here, the FCC is considering a proceeding proposing rules for dealing with LPTV stations after the incentive auction. That proceeding included the question of whether to extend the digital conversion deadline. Apparently, given the imminent deadline, the FCC decided to suspend the deadline before the remainder of the issues about LPTV had been resolved
Note, however, that the FCC makes clear that the May 29 date remains in place as the deadline for Class A stations to be operating digitally in order to get protection for those facilities in the upcoming incentive auction. We wrote about that deadline here. The FCC also notes that, even if a Class A station does not meet the May 29 deadline, and is not protected in the auction, it still must be operating digitally by September 1 – the extension announced today is only for LPTV stations.