No Freeze — Yet — on Ch 5, 6 LPTV Apps

Soooo, the Aug. 25 deadline for those wanting an LPTV CP in rural areas has come and gone — without the Federal Communications Commission acting on a request for a freeze on the use of Channels 5 and 6 for digital full-service television, LPTVs and TV translators.

The Broadcast Maximization Committee, made up of mostly engineers, made the request, saying, "It's unfair to NCE stations that this spectrum is being made available for application for new TV services," as full-service TV stations vacate analog Channel 6 in the DTV transition, and yet "NCE stations must continue to protect these former analog Channel 6 stations which no longer exist." BMC a year ago also proposed alternative uses for analog Channels 5 and 6 to extend the low end of the FM band.

NPR supports a freeze and stated in an Aug. 19 filing, "It is imperative that the commission not complicate a future reallocation and transition by inviting scores of new Channel 5 and 6 applications." A freeze, wrote NPR, would "maintain the status quo, prevent speculative applications by those seeking to operate LPTV stations as radio stations," and avoid further disadvantaging non-com FMs in the reserved band.

NCE FMs are between a rock and a hard place in the age of so-called "Franken FMs," which are LPTVs really operating as radio stations at the lower end of the band, because the commission in April put out a notice that basically said NCE FMs have to continue to protect analog Channel 6 — until the agency says they don't.

"Pulse 87" in New York is perhaps the most well-known of these LPTV stations that are pushing the envelope of their spectrum authorizations and really operating as radio stations. But unless the FCC puts a freeze in place, more applicants will follow. It's apparent that the analog TV spectrum adjacent to the FM band has greater economic value for radio than for television.

The BMC proposal would re-purpose TV analog Channels 5 and 6 for AM, some FM and LPFM allocations. The FCC really needs to impose this freeze and take a hard look at the public interest benefits of BMC's proposal. There's still time. While the LPTV window opened for rural applicants only this week, it opens for everyone in January.

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Comment List:

The Bellingham station is an application to move the existing CP of analog K60GV (Channel 60) to channel 6. According to the FCC Public Notice announcing the rural digital LPTV filing opportunity, "no applications for new analog facilities will be accepted". K60GV is not a new facility it was granted on 03/28/2008. However, I agree with you that they are too close to the BC station they are not supposed to have a signal that strong (62 dBu+!!) over Canadian land areas that are within CHEK's protected area. K60GV looks like the first step of a Seattle move-in of 87.7 FM.
By LPTV Weirdo on 8/30/2009
With WNYZ's sudden request to return to analog and WRGB's abrupt end to 87.9, it sounds like someone complained and the FCC agreed that digital-only is really digital-only, and that analog FM signals do not meet the criteria of the ancillary service particularly when it needs to be measured in bits, and a FCC approved transmitter is necessary (they're probably not going to approve a multiplexed transmitter that includes analog audio). New LPTV's are only allowed to be digital, and if the above paragraph is indeed the case, they will not be running analog audio on 87.7 (or 87.9)
By LPTV Weirdo on 8/27/2009
Not so; new LPTV, translators, and Class A stations are not required to be digital, only. See new channel 6 application by Venture Technologies Group for Bellingham WA., at Funny thing is that there exists a full power channel 6 located just few miles away in Victoria, BC., Canada. Go figure.
By HoBo on 8/28/2009

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