WASHINGTON—Post-auction channel-sharing becomes official May 18. The date was published today in the Federal Register, reflecting the March 23 unanimous vote by the Federal Communications Commission to allow channel-sharing arrangements, or “CSAs,” to be hammered out after the auction, and to include low-power TV licensees and translators. Before the vote, CSAs were codified only as an option for auction participants.
“This action will assist secondary stations that are displaced by the incentive auction and the repacking process to continue to operate in the post-auction television bands,” the ruling states.
LPTV and translator licensees initially were allowed to share channels among themselves in a late 2015 Report and Order. (See “LPTVs and Translators Can Channel-Share” Dec. 17, 2015.) The same R&O extended the digital transition deadline for LPTVs from Sept. 1, 2015, to mid-July of 2021, so low-power licensees wouldn’t have to upgrade and then move to a new channel or even go dark within a couple of years.
The March 23 ruling was significant for LPTVs and translators, which were not allowed to participate in the auction and are not guaranteed a channel assignment in the repack. According to the LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition—a group formed by LPTV and translator licensees to represent them throughout the auction process—said “3,150 LPTV and TV translator licenses and new permits” will be displaced, and possibly as many as 4,000.
The repack officially commenced April 13 with the release of the “Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice,” which states that “LPTV and TV translator stations may remain on their existing channels in the 600 MHz band until they are notified that they are likely to interfere with a forward-auction winner that is ready to commence operations. This could mean continued operations for many years until wireless licensees commence operations. The commission has also committed to provide operating displaced LPTV and TV translator stations with the opportunity to file a displacement application to move to another channel or to seek to channel share with another station.”
Further, it states that a forthcoming public notice “will outline the requirements and approximate timeline for the filing of applications for such displaced stations,” and that the auction software would be used to find available channel assignments for LPTVs and translators. To that end, the commission recently announced an update to said software, TVStudy, the channel-repacking program based on the FCC’s OET-69, the formula used to calculate interference among TV signals for the digital transition of more than a decade ago. The update, version 2.2, was described as a step toward locating channels for LPTVs and translators, though it had not yet accounted for the 987 full-power and Class A stations that will be moving over the next 39 months.
April 14, 2017
“Repack TVStudy v2.2 Targets LPTVs”
Vers. 2.2 is said to produce “interference studies for low-power television stations assuming all post-auction transitions have been completed,” though “it does not accurately account for full-power and Class A television stations’ pre-auction and post-auction channel assignments during the transition period.”
April 13, 2017
“987 Stations Displaced, 175 Broadcasters to Split $10 Billion”
The auction results are in and the new TV channel assignments are out. A total of 987 TV stations will be moved in the upcoming 39-month repack, and 175 broadcasters who sold spectrum in the auction will split the $10 billion offered up for it by wireless providers. With today’s release of the Federal Communications Commission’s “Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice,” the 90-day shot clock also begins on repack construction and modification applications and reimbursement estimates, making them due July 12, 2017. Vers. 2.2 is said to produce “interference studies for low-power television stations assuming all post-auction transitions have been completed,” though “it does not accurately account for full-power and Class A television stations’ pre-auction and post-auction channel assignments during the transition period.”
March 23, 2017
“FCC Extends Channel-Sharing”
The FCC unanimously voted to let LPTVs and translators share a channel with full-power and Class A licensees, providing them with more options to stay on the air once the musical-channels repack process begins. The vote also affirmed established carriage rights within these arrangements.
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