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FCC Freezes LPTV DTV and Translators Filings

Last Thursday the FCC announced a freeze on the filing of applications for new digital low power television and TV translator stations, in order to allow the commission "to evaluate its reallocation and repacking proposals and their impact on future licensing of low power television facilities." The commission also put a freeze on accepting additional applications for new digital LPTV and TV translator facilities, as well as applications for major changes to existing analog and digital LPTV and TV translator facilities in rural areas.

As was pointed out in the FCC's Broadcast Engineering Forum, implementing the National Broadband Plan's recommendation to reallocate 120 MHz of broadcast TV spectrum to wireless broadband would not leave any spectrum for low power TV in many parts of the country, and not even sufficient spectrum for all full power stations currently on the air in the most densely populated areas of the country.

The FCC noted that it has been accepting applications for new low power TV and translator stations and applications for major modifications to existing low power/translator stations in rural areas since Aug. 25, 2009. The Public Notice observed that anyone interested in a new or modified low power TV or TV translator had had over a year to apply.

The FCC says that it will continue to accept applications currently permitted under the rules for flash cut and digital companion channels filed by existing low power TV stations. The Commission said that it would also accept displacement applications from stations operating on channels 52 through 69. For other displacement applications, applicants would have to demonstrate actual interference from existing full power television stations.

The FCC Media Bureau will determine an appropriate date to end the freeze after broadband rule-making proceedings are completed.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.