FCC Releases Tentative DTV Channel Designations for Second-Round

The FCC wrapped up its analysis of applications filed in the second round of DTV channel elections and set a May 26, 2006 deadline for filing forms for the third round.

Of 81 applications filed in the second round, the commission was able to provide tentative channel designations for 75. Several stations modified their proposed facilities to reduce interference to acceptable levels.

Participants in the Philadelphia negotiated channel agreement (NCA) received tentative channel designation, as did all but one in the northern California NCA. The commission determined that KTFK in Sacramento will have to participate in the third round to obtain a DTV channel.

"KTFK-TV's proposed technical operating facilities would impermissibly change the station's geographic coverage area and violate the freeze imposed in connection with the DTV channel election and repacking process," the FCC said.

Stations that don't want to do their own research can ask the FCC to choose a "best available" channel for them. Seven stations requested this in the second round. In Oklahoma and Puerto Rico, the FCC picked channels that do not comply with Section 73.623(c)(5) of the rules regarding protection of Class A TV stations KUTU-CA in Tulsa, Okla. and WQSJ-CA in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico. The FCC explained that none of the seven DTV stations has an in-core DTV channel, "so for each one, the 'best available' channel we have selected constitutes an 'engineering solution to a technical problem,' consistent with Section 336(f)(1)(D)." The FCC said that to the extent these Class A stations receive interference, they are eligible to file for a displacement channel.

In addition to KTFK-TV, the FCC noted that WABC-TV (New York) and WEDH (Hartford, Conn.) remain pending and are not "locked" in and thus will go the third round. Stations that did not resolve their identified interference conflict to the satisfaction of the FCC include KRCA, WNYI, and WTVA. These stations will have to file Form 386 for the third round.

Noting that there is no conflict resolution round in the third round, the FCC said that it would determine, on a case-by-case basis, "what channel best replicates a station's service area while minimizing new interference to other stations." The FCC said it would also consider factors such as: "(1) whether the station was an early adopter of DTV technology; (2) the impact on the public's access to DTV services; (3) whether one or both of the station's channels is/are in the low VHF band, which might weigh in favor of that station receiving priority; (4) whether there are international coordination problems; (5) the existence of any zoning, environmental or other such issues; and (6) any other factors that may be relevant at the time." The FCC will determine the "best available channel" for stations without a tentative channel designation that don't file a Form 386

After the third round is completed, the FCC will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing a new DTV Table of Allotments. The commission indicated, however that even though a station has a tentative channel designation, it does not guarantee that the station will still have that channel when the new DTV Table of Allotments is finalized.

"The Commission will consider the tentative channel designations established through the first six steps, as well as on our evaluation of overall spectrum efficiency and providing the best service to the public, including service to local communities," the FCC said.

For a description of all second-round actions, see FCC Public Notice DA 06-991. An attachment lists the Second Round DTV Tentative Channel Designations.