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Latest Tally of FCC Broadcast Licenses Shows Fewer VHF stations

The FCC released its list of Broadcast Station Totals as of March 31, 2011 showing seven fewer TV stations (1,774) compared with the December 31, 2010 totals (1,781). The number of commercial and educational UHF TV stations increased by one while the number of commercial VHF TV stations dropped from 368 to 360. The March 31, 2010 totals showed 1.783 UHF and VHF commercial and educational TV stations. The decrease in this case was also limited to VHF commercial TV stations. Both commercial and educational UHF TV station totals increased year over year.

The number of Class A TV stations, both UHF and VHF, continued to decline, dropping from 522 in the December 2010 totals to 515 in the latest release. The number of UHF and VHF TV translators also dropped by 73, from 4,527 to 4,454. Both UHF and VHF Low Power TV licensees dropped by 19, to 2,172, in the March 31, 2011 report.

For reference, the December 31, 2008 totals,the last analog TV count, showed 1,759 VHF and UHF commercial TV stations, 15 fewer than the number reported in the March 2011 totals. There were 582 commercial VHF stations in the December 2008 total.

The latest totals show that interest in full service TV broadcasting, as indicated by the number of licenses, remains strong, with more stations licensed than before the DTV transition. It also indicates little if any interest in VHF DTV, as the number of stations using those frequencies continue to drop.

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.