For our readers in the television business, there have been recent developments in two proceedings about which we have written recently. Last week, we wrote about the extension of time to file reply comments on the CALM Act implementation Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, where the FCC is implementing a Congressional act to curb loud commercials. The extension on the reply comments was granted as the Advanced Television Systems Committee was about to announce new amendments to its protocol that is the standard proposed as the basis by which compliance with the act is measured. Given the importance of these standards, the FCC wanted to give interested parties at least a brief opportunity to comment on the revisions, thus warranting the extension. According to an FCC Public Notice, those revised standard have now been announced, and can be viewed on the ATSC website, here. Interestingly, as I write this article, the link to the Standards provided in the FCC Public Notice does not work, and the full report is not evident on the ATSC site. Hopefully, those issues will be short lived, as the Reply comments are due on August 1.
Another recent proceeding of interest to television operators is the recent Order of the FCC dealing with the digital conversion of LPTV stations, Class A TV stations and TV translators. We wrote about that proceeding here. That Order sets deadlines this year for stations still operating in the portions of the television band that have already been reclaimed for use by wireless companies (Channels 52 to 69). Any LPTV or TV translator still on these channels must file for a construction permit to move to the core television band by September 1 of this year. The Order further requires that these stations stop operating on their current channels by the end of this year. So that Channels 52 to 69 can be cleared on this very quick schedule, the FCC is expediting this proceeding, and has already published the Order in the Federal Register. While this publication triggers the effective date of the Order (August 26 except for the portions dealing with fees for ancillary and supplemental services, which will be set at a later date), it also signals the start of the period in which Petitions for Reconsideration or Court appeals can be filed. A not-so-fearless prediction - some sort of appeal will be filed, but it seems unlikely that it will be resolved by the September 1 filing deadline absent very unusual Court or Congressional intervention. But watch for the filings in any event but, if you operate one of these stations on any channel between 52 and 69, be prepared to vacate the channel if nothing unusual changes the FCC's collective mind between now and then.