I don't recall seeing discussion on this yet, but last month, the FCC proposed a new Replacement Digital Low Power Translator Service, which will help DTV stations restore coverage lost due to terrain, engineering, etc., as compared to their analog service.
Technically, the new service works exactly as existing translator service works: the primary station sends its signal to a translator, which rebroadcasts the signal on another frequency. However, administratively, there are two major differences: 1) the new service is intended only to replace analog coverage lost in the switch to digital, and 2) instead of the translator being a separate license from the primary station, it will be on the same license. Renewal or assignment of the primary license will automatically include any replacement digital LPTV stations. Replacement translators can be licensed on channels 2 - 59, although operation out-of-core, i.e., on channels 52 - 59, will require special coordination with existing and future primary services operating in that band.
Applications for this new service would receive the same priority as a displacement application, meaning that it would have priority over any and all co-channel analog and digital LPTV applications, unless those applications were for displacement.
Yesterday, Denver's primary PBS member station, KRMA, became the first station in the nation to submit an application for a replacement digital LPTV station, to operate on channel 47 as station K47LY-D. It would provide service to the Fort Collins, Loveland, and Greeley areas that will lose KRMA service on 2/18. Once KRMA is able to maximize their signal from 115 kW to 1000 kW (on channel 18), most of the lost area would have its signal restored, however, there would still be a sliver of lost coverage from analog, part of which the replacement translator would restore.
In case you're wondering: yes, a Distributed Television System (DTS) would accomplish the same purpose, but with all stations in synchronous operation on the same RF channel. Replacement digital translator service gives broadcasters another option, which can be used to expand coverage where operation on the primary RF channel is not possible due to interference with another co-channel station.Notice of Proposed RulemakingKRMA application