On Friday, May 8, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Report and Order establishing final rules for a new "replacement" digital translator service. In a December 2008 Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), the Commission proposed the new service in order to help full-power television stations compensate for service loss created by the Digital Television (DTV) transition. Shortly after releasing the NPRM, the agency established interim procedures to allow stations to apply for replacement translators pending the release of final rules. The rules adopted in the May 8 item supersede the interim procedures.
The Commission's existing television translator service rules will apply to the new replacement translator service, subject to several exceptions. Most notably, applicants for a replacement DTV translator must demonstrate that a portion of their analog service areas—i.e., the areas actually served by a station's analog signal prior to the DTV transition—will not be served by their final DTV facilities. The Report and Order also contains two significant departures from the NPRM: Replacement translators will only be licensed on channels 2-51, and permittees will be given three years (not the six months originally proposed) to construct replacement translators. The new service rules also establishes application priorities, permit a de minimis contour expansion, and tie replacement translators to their full-service stations' licenses so that they cannot be separately transferred or assigned.
A copy of the Report and Order is available here.