Low power TV groups have told the Federal Communications Commission that they need more time to make the transition to digital, and want the flexibility to experiment with delivering a combined broadcast and broadband service.
That is according to comments filed at the FCC.
The commission has proposed requiring low-power TV stations to make the digital transition by 2012. That is so it can begin auctioning off broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband, per the national broadband plan. LPTV stations were not required to make the DTV transition back in 2009 along with full-power stations, in part because of the economic burden it would put on the stations.
In a group filing, 15 TV LPTV stations said that the 2012 shut-off date would require them to "expend strained
resources" -- as much as $200,000 if they have to move to a new channel -- to make the DTV switch or lose their spectrum, and at a time when it was not yet clear whether they would be getting any money out of proposed incentive spectrum auctions.
They want the FCC to wait until it has reclaimed and reallocated spectrum to mandate the conversion to insure there will be spectrum left over for them.
They also said they should have the flexibility to use their spectrum to deliver both broadcast and broadband service,
which at least one commenter says will require the FCC not to lock them into the ATSC transmission standard for DTV.
In its comments, SpectrumEvolution.Org said it is exploring combining the two services. It is experimenting
with the technology -- using the ATSC standard -- in concert with some LPTV stations in Oregon, but asked the FCC to let it start testing with a modulation scheme other than ATSC. "[T]here is even less reason for a station to invest in
digital operation when the ATSC technology they are being asked to implement is two decades old and falls far short
of the state-of-the-art."