New Slots for Channel 51 Stations?

Trip Ericson has alerted me to some interesting activity in the FCC's Consolidated Database System. It appears the commission may have already started reserving displacement channels for relocation of full-power TV and Class A TV stations now operating on channel 51. Trip has posted a WTB Channel 51 Relocations list on

There are a total of 17 Channel 51 operations on the list, and eight of them have been reassigned to Channel 14. Trip noticed that one of these stations, WPWR-TVin Gary, Ind., got Channel 14, even though Channel 14 is reserved for land-mobile use in Chicago under FCC Section 73.623(e). In the Los Angeles area, KXLA, which is licensed to Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., was assigned to Channel 50. Trip pointed out that this is the same channel number that’s licensed to Class A TV station KNLA-CD.

The entries are in CDBS under the call sign “WTB,” and have invalid facility ID numbers. Not all Channel 51 stations are on the list. For example, Denver’s KCEC, San Francisco’s KDTV-DT, Montclair, N.J.’s WNJN, and Providence, R.I.’s WJAR were not included. 

The application numbers include the date the application was entered in CDBS – May14, 2012. The CDBS Public Access website had limited information on the applications. Entering “WTB” for the call sign in the Application Search pulled up four of filings, with no additional information. Searches on the facility ID returned no data.

The limited information in CDBS provides no clue as to why the FCC WTB (WirelessTelecommunications Bureau) put these entries in CDBS, but the entries should prevent other stations from applying for these channels and this could make it easier for the FCC to relocate the seventeen stations at some point in the future, perhaps using the repacking authority they have been given by Congress. I'm sure Trip will be keeping an eye out for applications for new channels for the remaining Channel 51 licensees.

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.