In one of its final actions pertaining to last year’s digital television (DTV) transition, the FCC adopted a rulemaking notice (NPRM) last Friday that proposes a 2012 deadline by which low-power television (LPTV) stations would be required to vacate their analog spectrum. Although full-power TV stations throughout the U.S. were required to complete the DTV transition by June 30, 2009, more than 7,400 LPTV stations and TV translator facilities that operate primarily in rural areas were exempt from that deadline. Noting that the NPRM corresponds with National Broadband Plan recommendations that call for the repurposing of former TV broadcast spectrum in the 700 MHz band for wireless broadband services, the FCC stated that “it is now appropriate that the 700 MHz band be cleared of [LPTV] broadcasters, both analog and digital, by a specific date so that new commercial wireless and public safety entities can continue to deploy their services.” Figures provided by the FCC show that 56% of the nation’s LPTV licensees have already begun the transition to digital spectrum and that two percent of such stations have requested authority for digital operations in the 700 MHz band. For these “out of core” stations that would have to transition a second time, the FCC proposes that such stations would have to apply for alternative channels by June 30, 2011 and move out of the 700 MHz band by December 31, 2011. For all remaining LPTV stations, the NPRM seeks comment on “when in 2012 would be the best time to require an analog shutoff” and “how to address ‘hardship’ cases for those stations that, despite their best efforts, are unable to make a timely conversion.” Among other things, the NPRM also seeks input on how viewers should be educated about the LPTV digital conversion and on whether the FCC should undertake “a targeted initiative for selected communities nationwide to increase awareness.” Acknowledging that consumers will not be able to take advantage of the digital converter box coupon program that was promoted heavily as part of last year’s DTV transition, the FCC has also asked for comment on the availability of converter boxes for analog LPTV viewers. Describing the proceeding as “a complex undertaking,” FCC Commissioner Michael Copps voiced optimism that the agency “will learn from the previous transition and improve upon it.”