U.S. Gains 144 LPTVs in 2016

WASHINGTON—The United States gained 144 low-power TV licenses in 2016 despite the uncertain future of LPTVs, which are not assured a channel assignment in the post-incentive auction repack. According to the broadcast station tally released by the Federal Communications Commission Jan. 5, 2017, there were 1,966 UHF and VHF lower-power TV licensees as of as of Dec. 31, 2016. The count as of Dec. 31, 2015 was 1,822.

Overall, 1,365 U.S. broadcast licenses were added in 2016, for a total of 32,397 at the end of 2016 versus 31,032 at the end of 2017. As noted in Wireless Estimator, 68 percent of the 1,365 additional licenses comprised radio boosters and radio and TV translators. A total of 147 UHF and 38 VHF translators were added. The rest of the 68 percent were AM and FM boosters and translators.

There were eight fewer full-power TV stations in 2016—one less VHF non-com, five fewer VHF commercial and two fewer UHF commercial stations. There were 12 more Class A stations in 2016 than in 2015. Full-power AM and FM radio gained 36 licenses in 2016.

Non-Class A LPTV as well as translator licensees were not permitted to participate in the television spectrum incentive auction, now in its fourth stage. Consequently, these licensees are not guaranteed a channel assignment after the auction concludes.

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