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LPTVs and Translators Can Channel-Share

WASHINGTON—The Federal Communications Commission today outlined provisions to accommodate low-power television and translator licencees through the incentive auction process.

The FCC said today’s Third Channel Sharing Report & Order builds on previous commission actions by:

Permitting Channel-Sharing: The Third Report & Order allows channel sharing among LPTV and TV translator stations.

Extending the Deadline for the Digital Transition
: This summer the commission postponed the Sept.1, 2015 deadline for LPTV and TV translator stations to transition to digital broadcasting so that these stations will not be forced to complete their digital conversion only to find that their newly constructed digital facilities were displaced as a result of the repacking process. The Order sets a new digital transition date of 12 months after the 39-month post-incentive auction transition final deadline for full power and Class A stations (51 months after the conclusion of the incentive auction, scheduled to begin March 29, 2016).

Offering Software Assistance for Finding New Channels
: Prior to opening the special displacement window for LPTV and TV translator stations, the Media Bureau will utilize the repacking and optimization software to identify new channels for displaced translator stations.

The Order was adopted unanimously on Wednesday, the day before the FCC regular meeting. The item was removed from the agenda Wednesday morning.

“The commission’s action is designed to preserve the vital services LPTV and TV translator stations provide – particularly in rural areas,” Media Bureau Chief William Lake said. “These steps, along with other actions we have taken, will help ensure the continued availability of these services following the Incentive Auction.”

The commission noted that the Spectrum Act of 2012 left non-Class A LPTVs and translators unprotected in the post-auction channel repack, but the community value of LPTVs and translators was recognized by the commission. Thus in 2014, it created a filing window to give first choice of remaining TV channels to LTPV and TV translator stations displaced in the repack.

The commission said it also determined that LPTVs and translators operating on channels allocated for wireless use may remain on those channels until they are notified that a forward-auction winner is within 120 days of commencing operations, extending the stations’ time on those channels for several years.