Vast Majority Of TV Stations To Keep Analog Until June 123/17/2009 10:13 PM Eastern
According to the Federal Communications Commission, 927 stations have told the agency that they plan to pull the plug on analog June 12, while 158 stations want to make the switch to digital earlier than that.
Almost half of that group indicated that they want to go April 16, the earliest the FCC will let them. Over 600 stations have already pulled the plug, but the remaining thousand-plus cover the majority of the country.
Stations executives had until 5:30 p.m. on March 17 to declare their DTV transition intentions. The FCC late Tuesday released the list of stations and when they had opted to make the switch.
The 927 stations are good to go. The FCC will have to approve the other 158, which the commission said it will do "expeditiously." The agency will need to, since the 75 or so stations that want to transition April 16 -- if the FCC lets them -- need to start informing their viewers of that fact by tomorrow, in order to meet the FCC's own mandatory 30-day viewership notification.
According to an FCC source, there are not many tough calls among the 158, so the FCC should be able to decide quickly. There are a mix of different affiliations among those 158, but PBS had the most early plug-pullers. The FCC has already allowed some non-commercial stations to go as early as March 27, giving them hardship waivers.
Major network affiliates that want to go early can't all go in the same market, unless one stays on with at least an analog nightlight service, similar to the rules for stations that wanted to pull the plug Feb. 17.
The FCC considers major network affiliates a key news and information outlet in each market.
Stations that plan to stay on the air in analog until June 12 will essentially be locked into that decision, save for extenuating circumstances like financial hardship.