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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

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).

Report No. MM 97-9 MASS MEDIA ACTION APRIL3, 1997

(MM DOCKET NO. 87-268)

The Commission today adopted a Table of Allotments for digital television (DTV); rules for initial DTV allotments; procedures for assigning DTV frequencies; and plans for spectrum recovery.

The new DTV table accommodates all eligible existing broadcasters, replicates existing service areas, and ensures sound and efficient spectrum management. The Table will facilitate early recovery of 60 Mhz of spectrum at channels 60-69 and recovery of additional 78 MHz of spectrum at the end of the transition period. Previously, the Commission anticipated recovering only 72 Mhz of spectrum, and none until the end of the transition. The Commission will initiate a proceeding in the near future to decide on use of the spectrum at channels 60-69. The Commission stated that it would give serious consideration to assigning 24 MHz for public safety uses, and that it would consider assigning by auction some or all of the remaining 36 MHz.

The DTV Table of Allotments provides a channel for DTV operations to all eligible broadcasters. Those eligible for a DTV channel include: parties licensed to operate a full service television broadcast station and those holding a construction permit for such a station. This eligibility criteria follows the initial eligibility set forth in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This approach, the Commission said, will promote an orderly transition to DTV by ensuring that all eligible full service broadcasters are able to provide digital service.

The Commission indicated that the DTV channel allotments and related policies and rules adopted today offer a number of significant improvements for broadcasters and the public over its earlier allotment proposals in 1992.

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First, the new DTV Table of Allotments provides all eligible broadcasters with a new channel that will allow them to provide DTV service to areas that are generally comparable to their existing NTSC service areas. Broadcasters will thus be assigned DTV channels that replicate the service areas of their existing stations. In fact, during the transition period, over 50 percent of all broadcasters will receive a DTV channel that provides 100 percent replication, and over 93 percent of all broadcasters will receive a channel that provides at least 95 percent service area replication. This contrasts with the Commission's previous proposals to "maximize" the service areas of all stations and to assign DTV allotments on a first-come/first-served basis, which many broadcasters argued would have unfairly altered the structure of the television industry and caused delays and confusion in the assignment of DTV channels.

The Commission also indicated that the new DTV Table of Allotments plans for the eventual location of all DTV channels in a core spectrum of VHF and UHF channels that are technically most suited to DTV operation. This contrasts with its previous proposal to locate all DTV channels on UHF channels, some portions of which are less desirable for DTV operation. The DTV Table plan adopted is based on use of channels 2-51. However, the Commission stated that at the end of the transition, it would specify a core DTV spectrum of either channels 2-46 or channels 7-51.

The Commission noted that it had previously proposed to prefer DTV service in instances where a choice had to be made between causing interference to an existing analog station or a new DTV station in allotting DTV channels. The new DTV Table minimizes all unavoidable interference to both existing analog TV and new DTV service. In this regard, 99 percent of all NTSC stations will receive less than 10 percent new interference from DTV operations.

The Commission indicated that the DTV Table is based on a minimum power level of 50 kW and a maximum power level of 1000 kW. It stated that a 50 kW minimum power level will ensure that stations have a sufficient service area to compete effectively in the provision of DTV services and is consistent with the maximization concept supported by the industry. It also stated that 1000 kW is sufficient to provide a very high degree of service replication for almost all stations. The Commission indicated that this power level allows for a more equitable distribution of opportunities for maximization of service areas to full service DTV stations of all sizes.

While, the Commission continued the secondary status of low power TV and TV translator stations, it adopted a number of administrative and technical measures to minimize the impact of DTV implementation on low power operations.

The Commission also removed the conditions that were applied to applications for modification of existing NTSC stations that were granted subsequent to July 25, 1996, the date of the Notice of Proposed of Rule Making addressing DTV allotments.

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In addition, the Commission noted that the new DTV Table of Allotments provides interference protection for more than an additional 100 new stations for which applications have been filed and provides 30 new DTV allotments for stations that have begun operation or received construction permits since it issued its draft DTV Table of Allotments.

Finally, the Commission further set forth technical criteria for the allotment of additional DTV frequencies and the modification of allotments included in this initial Table.

Action by the Commission April 3, 1996, by Sixth Report and Order (FCC 97-115). Chairman Hundt, Commissioners Quello, Ness, and Chong, with Chairman Hundt, Commissioners Quello, Ness and Chong each issuing separate statements.


News Media contacts: Patricia A. Chew and David Fiske at (202) 418-0500. Office of Engineering and Technology contacts: Bruce Franca and Alan Stillwell, at (202) 418-2470, Robert Eckert at (202) 418-2433.