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Media Bureau Readies to Replace WEPX-TV's Channel 51

Last week I reported that the FCC Wireless Bureau was pre-assigning some New Slots for Channel 51 Stations. One of the stations on the WTB Channel 51 Relocations list complied by Trip Ericson was Ion's WEPX-TV in Greenville, NC. That list, compiled from FCC databases, showed Channel 39 as WEPX-TV's new channel. However, last Friday the FCC's Media Bureau released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (DA 12-815) proposing substitution of Channel 26 for WEPX-TV's current Channel 51 allocation. 

This NPRM was issued based on a petition for rulemaking from Ion Media Greenville License, Inc., the licensee of WEPX-TV, requesting substitution of Channel 26 for Channel 51. It appears that Ion got a better deal with Channel 26 than it would have had with the WTB Channel 39 reservation. The WTB proposal provided an ERP of 114 kW, with an antenna height above average terrain of 140 meters, the same as WEPX-TV's Channel 51 facility. The proposed Channel 26 facility would provide an ERP of 278 kW with and antenna 141 meters above average terrain. 

In the NPRM, the Media Bureau says “We believe that Ion's proposal warrants consideration.” (Ion said the proposed facility would increase the net total population served by the station by more than 100,000 persons.)

In May, the FCC instituted a freeze on accepting rulemaking petitions by full-power television stations requesting channel substitutions, although it subsequently announced it would lift the freeze to accept petitions for rulemaking filed by stations seeking to relocate away from Channel 51, pursuant to a voluntary relocation agreement with Lower 700 MHz A Block licensees. 

As part of the NPRM, the FCC is seeking comment on this proposed amendment of the Post-Transition Table of DTV Allotments for Greenville, NC. 

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.