FCC freezes TV Channel 51 applications

The FCC has instituted an immediate, yet temporary, freeze on channel 51 applications. It includes future applications for television stations as well as any current applications that operate on the channel at the upper limit broadcast spectrum.

The applications will remain frozen while the FCC considers a wireless industry request for rulemaking to prevent interference with wireless services from broadcasters operating on channel 51.

The commission said it would accelerate “action on moving broadcasters who have agreed voluntarily to relocate from channel 51 by lifting a freeze on those petitions, and will allow low-power stations that have applied to operate on the channel 60 days to amend the applications and request an alternative channel.”

The FCC said freezing the acceptance of channel 51 applications will “stabilize the channel 51 environment” and “create the necessary conditions” to allow the Commission to consider the matters raised in the rulemaking petition in an “effective, efficient and meaningful manner.”

Stations currently operating on channel 51 can continue to do so and build out currently authorized facilities. The commission said it would entertain waivers of the freeze under special circumstances.

The FCC said it is not subject to notice, comment or for delay until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register because the freeze is procedural.

The freeze was also requested by the CTIA, the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry.