FCC Media Bureau Opens Window for Stranded LPTV/Translator Stations

WASHINGTON—The FCC Media Bureau announced the opening of a filing window to resolve the state of new rural digital LPTV stations left in a limbo created by the TV spectrum incentive auction and repack.

Qualifying new, rural LPTV stations have between now and Jan. 31, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. EDT to amend pending applications to specify a new channel between 2 and 36.

These stations originally filed to be licensed as new rural digital LPTV or translator stations after the Media Bureau began accepting applications for this service in 2009. However, the FCC froze those applications as the agency moved forward with the incentive auction and spectrum repack.

According to a Media Bureau public notice, “it is appropriate to give these applicants an opportunity to amend their applications to specify a new digital in core channel” now that the auction is completed.

To qualify to amend an application, applicants must have a pending application for a new digital LPTV/translator station displaced by the incentive auction and repack.

The bureau has set up three criteria to be considered “displaced,” one of which must be met to be eligible. They include:

  • being subject to a displacement by a full-power or Class A TV station on the repacked TV band resulting from the incentive auction;
  • having proposed a frequency repurposed for new, flexible use by a 600 MHz band wireless licensee; or
  • having proposed a frequency that will be used as part of the 600 MHz guard band.

Besides amending applications to specify a new in core channel, applicants have the option to modify technical specifications submitted as part of the original application as long as the changes don’t include a relocation of a transmitter site more than 48 kilometers (29.825 miles) from the reference coordinates originally submitted, the bureau said.

Further, transmitting antenna site coordinates must be more than 121 kilometers (75 miles) from the reference coordinates of DMA 1-100 markets. (The north latitude and west longitude of each of these markets is provided in Appendix A of the notice.)

The bureau will treat the application amendments of qualifying stations, filed in compliance with the restrictions outlined in the notice, as “minor” amendments. The agency will not charge a fee to file an application amendment, the bureau said.

The Media Bureau also laid out procedures for how mutually exclusive applications will be resolved in the notice.

For more information on the repack, visit TV Technology's repack silo.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.