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See also DTV Delay Act

The Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act, or SAFER Act, is a U.S. law to require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow the continuation of full-power analog TV transmissions in 2009 for 30 more days, for the purpose of broadcasting public service announcements regarding the DTV transition in the United States, and emergency information.[1][2] It is also commonly known as the "DTV nightlight bill" or "analog nightlight", referring to a small nightlight that is left on after all of the other lights are out.[3] Despite the analog shutoff deadline being extended to June 12 as part of the DTV Delay Act, stations that sign off before are still permitted to participate in the SAFER Act.

This allows for such broadcasts, in both English and Spanish, until July 12th, while normal programming ceased on June 12th.[4] It was passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress, originating in the U.S. Senate as S. 3668, and approved by the U.S. House in mid-December 2008.[5] Such broadcasts would not be required, and for stations which are going to flash-cut on the same channel (either to their own digital broadcasts or another TV station's) this will be impossible.[6] Only stations in the "core spectrum" (channels 2 to 51) would be allowed to participate, so that channels 52 to 69 may be cleared. One notable exception in the 52-69 spectrum is Fox affiliate WPGH-TV in Pittsburgh (channel 53), which elected to sign off its analog signal on the original February 17 deadline instead of June 12, thereby allowing it to participate in the SAFER Act.[7]

It was signed by President George W. Bush on December 23, 2008 and the FCC was given until January 15 to finalize the related rules and regulations.[8] The initial FCC-generated list of eligible stations[9] was published on December 29.[10] Other stations were encouraged to apply, especially in media markets where no station is listed. Stations only require a special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC to be a part of the service.

Limited presence of advertising and sponsorship is permitted, insofar as it is needed to allow news broadcasts from the main digital station to be simulcast onto the nightlight channel during an emergency.[11] Commercial activity is otherwise limited to mere identification of sponsors. An updated FCC list of eligible stations, released January 15 2009, identified twenty-eight stations nationwide which have expressed interest in conducting these broadcasts.[12] The cost per-station to operate the transmitters for one month has been estimated at $3500 to $15000, depending on frequency and power level.

LPTV stations are not required to go digital, thus the bill does not affect them. Because of this exception, several stations through the nation, such as Washington, D.C.'s WJLA (ABC) and WDJT-TV (CBS) in Milwaukee took advantage of the loophole by moving network programming from their former analog full-power stations to purchased or leased LPTV stations in order to continue to provide some form of analog network programming and local news to their market area until such time digital adoption has been deemed sufficient by the stations. WJLA ended their extended service shortly after the nightlight period, while the special dispensation by CBS for WDJT to air the network on their station ended on December 31, and it switched to carrying Me TV programming.

In Chicago after June 12, a low-power analog station, not required to shut down after 30 days like other nightlight stations, aired newscasts that could not be seen by a number of people after the transition, while stations attempted to solve problems.[13]

The FCC reported 121 stations providing nightlight service in 87 markets after the June 12 transition.[14]

All of the stations were supposed to be off the air by July 12, and David Fiske of the FCC said no investigation was planned to make sure they all were. Fiske said someone would have to report a full-power station for violating the rule. One reason they would not continue: the cost of continuing to operate two transmitters.

While Nielsen said 1.7 million people still could not pick up a digital signal as of July 1, former acting FCC chair Michael Copps said giving nighlight stations more time was not planned.[15]

References

  1. ^ Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act
  2. ^ Text of S. 3663: Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act
  3. ^ Senate: When analog TV goes dark, leave a light on, Jacqui Cheng, ARStechnica, November 24, 2008
  4. ^ Analog: don’t kill it yet, Brad Dick, Broadcast Engineering, December 1st, 2008
  5. ^ Preparing for a blackout: Legislation targets DTV transition, Bluefield WV Daily Telegraph, December 12, 2008
  6. ^ House bill allows some analogue messages after DTV switch, Stephanie Condon. C|Net, December 11, 2008
  7. ^ http://pbrtv.com/blog/entry_902.php
  8. ^ DTV Nightlight Bill Becomes Law, Broadcasting & Cable, 23 December 2008
  9. ^ FCC's list of eligible SAFER Act stations
  10. ^ FCC flips on the night light, Radio Business Report, December 29, 2008
  11. ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-09-2A1.pdf
  12. ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-09-2A2.pdf
  13. ^ Eggerton, John (2009-06-17). "Weigel's Analog Nightlight Could Help Chicago Stations With Reception Issues". Broadcasting & Cable. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/295225-Weigel_s_Analog_Nightlight_Could_Help_Chicago_Stations_With_Reception_Issues.php?rssid=20068&q=digital+tv.  
  14. ^ Grotticelli, Michael (2009-06-22). "DTV Transition Not So Smooth in Some Markets". Broadcast Engineering. http://broadcastengineering.com/news/dtv-transition-not-smooth-markets-0622/. Retrieved 2009-06-24.  
  15. ^ Eggerton, John (2009-07-13). "Analog Nightlights Go Out". Broadcasting & Cable. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/315076-Analog_Nightlights_Go_Out.php?rssid=20068&q=digital+tv. Retrieved 2009-07-15.  

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Public Law 110-459
by the 110th Congress of the United States
Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act
Pub.L. 110−459, 122 Stat. 5121, S. 3663, enacted December 23, 2008.
Note: This is the original legislation as it was initially enacted. Like many laws, this statute may have since been amended once or many times, and the text contained herein may no longer be legally current. Follow the interlinks within the content or check to see What Links Here for more.


110TH UNITED STATES CONGRESS
2ND SESSION

An Act

To require the Federal Communications Commission to provide for a short-term extension of the analog television broadcasting authority so that essential public safety announcements and digital television transition information may be provided for
a short time during the transition to digital television broadcasting.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

Contents

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ``Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act´´.

SEC. 2. COMMISSION ACTION REQUIRED.

(a) PROGRAM REQUIRED-
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Communications Commission shall, not later than January 15, 2009, develop and implement a program to encourage and permit, to the extent technically feasible and subject to such limitations as the Commission finds to be consistent with the public interest and the requirements of this Act, the broadcasting in the analog television service of only the public safety information and digital transition information specified in subsection (b) during the 30-day period beginning on the day after the date established by law under section 3002(b) of the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 for termination of all licenses for full-power television stations in the analog television service and the cessation of broadcasting by full-power stations in the analog television service.
(b) INFORMATION REQUIRED-
The program required by subsection (a) shall provide for the broadcast of--
(1) emergency information, including critical details regarding the emergency, as broadcast or required to be broadcast by full-power stations in the digital television service;
(2) information, in both English and Spanish, and accessible to persons with disabilities, concerning--
(A) the digital television transition, including the fact that a transition has taken place and that additional action is required to continue receiving television service, including emergency notifications; and
(B) the steps required to enable viewers to receive such emergency information via the digital television service and to convert to receiving digital television service, including a phone number and Internet address by which help with such transition may be obtained in both English and Spanish; and
(3) such other information related to consumer education about the digital television transition or public health and safety or emergencies as the Commission may find to be consistent with the public interest.

SEC. 3. LIMITATIONS.

In designing the program required by this Act, the Commission shall--
(1) take into account market-by-market needs, based upon factors such as channel and transmitter availability;
(2) ensure that broadcasting of the program specified in section 2(b) will not cause harmful interference with signals in the digital television service;
(3) not require the analog television service signals broadcast under this Act to be retransmitted or otherwise carried pursuant to section 325(b), 338, 339, 340, 614, or 615 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 325(b), 338, 339, 340, 614, or 615);
(4) take into consideration broadcasters' digital power levels and transition and coordination plans that already have been adopted with respect to cable systems and satellite carriers' systems;
(5) prohibit any broadcast of analog television service signals under section 2(b) on any spectrum that is approved or pending approval by the Commission to be used for public safety radio services, including television channels 14-20; and
(6) not include the analog spectrum between channels 52 and 69, inclusive (between frequencies 698 and 806 megahertz, inclusive) reclaimed from analog television broadcasting pursuant to section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 309(j)).

SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS.

As used in this Act, the term `emergency information' has the meaning such term has under part 79 of the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission (47 C.F.R. part 79).


Approved December 23, 2008.


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