Most US TV stations are in the process of altering their broadcast spectrum licenses, resulting in channel changes, shared tech, and, in some cases, buyouts

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2018.02.09, Friday

FCC Will Open April Window For Auction-Displaced LPTVs

[Source: Broadcasting & Cable]

The FCC has set the schedule for low-power TVs and translators displaced in the incentive auction to try and find new channels.

In a public notice issued Friday (Feb. 9), the FCC’s Media Bureau and Incentive Auction Task Force said the “special displacement window” for filing applications for new channels opens April 10 and closes May 15.

The FCC also released a study to help stations figure out what new channels will be available in the new, repacked, TV bands. Actually the FCC study identifies channels that won’t be available because they are being used by non-displaced LPTVs and translators or full-power TV’s or Class A LPVTS, which were protected in the repack.

The existing channels of LPTVs and translators were not protected in the congressional legislation that created the auction and necessitated the repack, but those displaced in the process are being given a “space available” option to apply for them. Noone is guaranteed a new channel, but the FCC will try to accommodate as many as possible.

The application process is not like a musical chairs game, where first last in loses. If there are mutually exclusive applications–both parties want the same channel or one assigment precludes the other, the FCC will give them a chance to cure it among themselves before designating that license for an auction between the parties.

The FCC is also advising those looking for new channels outside the top 40 DMA’s to stay close to existing stations “to help provide flexibility in the future.” That sounds like the FCC could be looking to free up even more TV spectrum in that flexible future? NAB was vetting the notice at press time and an FCC spokesperson was not available for comment. But Microsoft has been suggesting such language to the FCC as it pushes for as much contiguous white spaces spectrum between TV channels as it can get.

When a station has studied the study and identified a channel not in use, and not liable to cause interference to one in, use, it needs to file a construction permit.

The FCC is suspending its general freeze on displacement applications, which is what opens the window, and reinstating it at 11:59 p.m. May 15.

Stations that don’t file in that window will have to wait until the freeze is ultimately lifted.

The FCC is trying to limit the number of station facilities changes within the Rubik’s cube of the larger repack of close to a thousand stations.

The FCC last month froze minor LPTV facilities changes signaling the displacement window was about to open.

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