Originally Posted by Desert Hawk
Why are stations required to make the switch at 11:59 pm?
Actually the Report and Order states that stations must be clear of analog transmission by 11:59pm Feb 17, 2009, but can convert beginning as soon as they have completed construction of their post transition facilities and notifiy the FCC within 30 days of the planned switch, file the paperwork asking permission to cease analog transmission, as long as the switch will not cause any additional interference to existing analog or digital stations at the time of the change.
That is right in the middle of The Tonight Show on NBC and The Late Show on CBS. Let's use as an example an NBC affiliate that is making it's permanent digital home on it's current analog channel. Are they actually expected to broadcast the first half of Leno on their old analog and digital channels, quickly shut off the old signals and fire up the new digital signal on the old analog channel during the midnight station break, and then broadcast the second half of the show in digital on the old analog channel number?
If the station wants to, yes but the FCC has stated in the Report and Order that ALL stations HAVE to announce ON AIR in ADVANCE their intentions to cease analog transmissions at X time and their digital signal will be on channel Y after that time. The FCC states the time line this has to take place.
It would make much more sense to allow stations to keep using the current signals until 3am. That way an NBC affiliate could broadcast all the late night shows on the old signals until Poker After Dark ends at 3am, and then shut down the old signals. Then they would have 2 hours to get the new digital signal on the air with a test pattern, before the early early morning news at 5am.
The Report and Order is VERY clear that ALL FULL POWER analog transmissions MUST CEASE NO LATER THAN 11:59pm Feb 17, 2009, unless they have express FCC permission, IN WRITING, and the FCC says it will not be issuing any such waivers unless the situation is an EXTREME condition and they can't foresee such a condition. The Report and Order specifies that ANY station NOT making the 11:59pm deadline is just off the air until they can get the digital signal on. If a station is not going to make the 11:59pm deadline, they have to notify the FCC AND announce on air they will not make the Feb 17, 2009 date and will be off air. They don't care what the programming is at 11:59 pm or the situation. The FCC has left NO stone unturned on this one.
At 12:00 MID Feb 18, 2009, any full power analog signal still on the air without express FCC authorization is operating without a license and is in violation of FCC rules as an unauthorized station and is liable for any sanctions. Now, if a station wishes to cease analog operations between 12:00 Mid and 5:00 AM Feb 17, 2009, they have no problem with that either.
I have read all 156 pages of the Report and Order. They have addressed every contingency and every type of situation, including naming 6 stations having NOT made enough progress in putting a digital signal on the air and those stations have now lost their analog coverage area protection in digital and as stated in the Report and Order, those stations may never it be able to get it back either. The FCC is playing for keeps.