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Federal Communications Commission
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Washington, D.C. 20554
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

January 19, 2001
David Fiske (202) 418-0513


Washington -- The FCC today issued a Report and Order and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNRPM) in its first periodic review of the digital television (DTV) transition to resolve issues crucial to the rapid conversion of the nation’s broadcast television system from analog to digital.

The Commission:

  • Affirmed the 8-VSB modulation system of the DTV transmission standard, concluding that there is no reason to revisit its decision denying a request to allow use of an alternative DTV modulation standard.

  • Set dates for stations with both analog and digital channel assignments within the DTV core (channels 2-51) to elect which channel they will use for their post-transition digital channel. (December 31, 2003, for commercial stations; December 31, 2004 for non-commercial broadcasters). Election dates for broadcasters with one or both channels outside the DTV core will be set in a future periodic review proceeding.
  • Determined that broadcasters need not replicate with their digital signal the entire Grade B service area of their analog station. However, the Commission said that commercial stations will lose interference protection to those portions of their existing NTSC service area that they do not replicate with their DTV signal by December 31, 2004; noncommercial DTV stations will not lose such protection until December 31, 2005.
  • Ordered that by December 31, 2004, commercial DTV stations must provide a stronger signal to their communities of license than the DTV service contour they were initially required to provide. Noncommercial DTV stations must provide the enhanced signal strength to their communities by December 31, 2005.

  • Denied requests to set performance standards for digital receivers, expressing concern that the effect of setting such standards at this point would be to stifle innovation and limit performance to current capabilities. The Commission said it would continue to monitor receiver issues;

  • Instituted procedures for processing mutually exclusive DTV expansion applications and set the date of adoption of today’s order as a cut-off date so that all pending DTV “area expansion” applications will be protected against later-filed applications.

The Commission also issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to consider whether to require some TV sets to have the capability to demodulate and decode over-the-air DTV signals in addition to displaying the existing analog TV signals.

In raising this issue, the Commission recognized broadcasters’ concerns that DTV receivers are not yet available in sufficient volume to support a rapid transition to an all-digital broadcast television service. It asked whether a requirement to include DTV reception capability in certain television sets could help to develop the production volumes needed to bring DTV receiver prices down quickly to where they are more attractive to consumers and could help to promote a more rapid development of high DTV set penetration.

The Commission asked for comments on how best to implement DTV reception capability requirements, if it were to decide to adopt them. It said it recognized the cost considerations associated with such requirements. The Commission suggested that one approach for minimizing the impact on both consumers and manufacturers would be to impose any requirement first on a percentage of large screen televisions, such as 32 inches and larger, because these are typically higher priced units where the cost of DTV components would be a smaller percentage of the cost of the receiver. In addition, it asked whether any requirement should be phased in over time such that manufacturers would increase each year the percentage of units of a designated screen size or larger that are manufactured each year that would have DTV receive capability. It noted that separate set-top DTV receivers could also be included in meeting the reception capability requirements.

The Commission additionally requested comment on whether it should require any digital television receivers that cannot receive off-the-air digital broadcast signals to carry a label informing consumers of this limitation on the receivers' functionality. This issue concerns receivers that are intended for use only with cable television or broadcast satellite service. The Commission indicated that while it expects that consumers will continue to expect all digital television receivers to be able to receive over-the-air broadcast signals, it suggested that where receivers not able to receive such signals are marketed, consumers should be so notified prior to purchase.

The FCC noted that the Report and Order and the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking were designed to expedite the DTV transition and to provide licensees with a measure of certainty that will enhance their ability to plan facilities, order equipment and arrange for construction of their facilities, all of which will speech the transition to digital service.

Action by the Commission by Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 01-24).

- FCC -

MM Docket #00-39 Mass Media Bureau Contacts: Roger Holberg and Mania Baghdadi (202)-418-2120 Office of Engineering & Technology Contacts: Bruce Franca and Alan Stillwell (202) 418-2470