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Although Congress has ultimately decided to delay the analog to digital transition from this month until June, some broadcasters are going to move forward as planned

Although Congress has officially pushed back the analog to digital television transition from February 17 to June 12, stations still have the ability to make the DTV switch if they choose.

Rather than keep it simple with one date for everyone, the FCC opened the opportunity for broadcasters who want to make the transition early, but they most follow a set of guidelines.  All broadcasters aiming to switch on February 17 must contact the FCC by Monday and let them know of their intentions.  

Major broadcast networks, including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, will not switch off analog signals until this spring, though local affiliates are free to do as they please.  It's likely the major networks will put pressure on their affiliates to also delay the switch until June 12.

The FCC has the final call on each station, and can decide a station must wait to make the switch if they don't do enough to inform their viewers.  In addition, the FCC will frown upon the possibility of all stations in a certain market wanting to make the switch early.

"We reserve the right to deny those requests if we find that it would not serve the public interest or if it would frustrate Congress' goal of giving consumers adequate time to prepare," said acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps.

Full FCC guidelines are available here (PDF).

Numerous stations have come forward and said they will drop analog broadcasts in less than two weeks.  There are 1,796 full-power TV stations in operation in the United States, with hundreds expected to switch over on the original date.  

There was a growing concern that many Americans weren't prepared for the switch on February 17, and the government fund to offer subsidized vouchers quickly ran out of money with millions still on the list.





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