FCC releases list of TV stations converting early to digital

More than 150 stations will transition before June 12

More than 150 U.S. television stations will transition to all-digital broadcasts before a June 12 deadline to do so, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said.

The FCC late Tuesday released a list of 158 TV stations planning to move to digital broadcasts earlier than required, with some doing so as soon as April 1. Dozens of stations on the list plan to transition to DTV broadcasts on April 16.

Six Boston-area stations, two Chicago-area stations, two Dallas-area stations, four Denver-area stations and three Phoenix-area stations plan to make the transition in April. The full list of stations abandoning analog broadcasts before June 12 is on the FCC Web site (PDF).

The FCC also released a list (PDF) of more than 900 TV stations planning to transition on June 12.

Former U.S. President George Bush signed legislation in February 2006 requiring the move. Most of the spectrum being abandoned by the TV stations was sold by the FCC in an auction that ended in March 2008. Many wireless experts see the abandoned 700-MHz spectrum as optimal for wireless broadband services, and Congress designated part of the spectrum to be used for a nationwide broadband network for emergency response agencies.

The original DTV transition deadline was Feb. 17, but Congress voted just weeks before that deadline to extend the date until June 12. Lawmakers had expressed concerns that a voucher program for DTV converter coupons at the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) had a waiting list of more than 3.5 million households. The NTIA program had been swamped with coupon requests, and some households that did not need coupons had apparently applied for them.

NTIA's coupon Web site still erroneously lists Feb. 17 as the DTV transition deadline. Older TVs receiving over-the-air broadcasts will need to get converter boxes to continue to receive TV signals after the DTV transition, and U.S. households are eligible for two $40 coupons.

TV sets connected to cable or satellite service will not need converter boxes.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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