A Public Notice was released in response to CTIA and RCA’s joint petition urging the FCC to “promote deployment of wireless broadband service in the Lower 700 MHz A Block by taking action to prevent further interference caused by TV broadcast stations on channel 51.” In this Public Notice, the Commission:
1. Announces a general freeze, effective immediately, on the filing of new applications on channel 51 and the processing of pending applications on channel 51;
2. Lifts the existing freeze as applied to, and will accept, petitions for rulemaking filed by full power television stations seeking to relocate from channel 51 pursuant to a voluntary relocation agreement; and
3. Opens a 60-day window for parties with pending low power television station applications on channel 51 to amend their applications to request an alternate channel assignment.
Channel 51 Application Freeze
- Freeze is temporary and affects only the submission of applications for new or modified facilities. Does not affect existing full power or low power television stations on channel 51. The freeze applies to the following filings:
- Applications for Low power TV, TV translator, replacement translators and Class A TV facilities on channel 51 (including flash-cut, digital companion channels, displacement applications).
- Applications for Minor change for low power and full power TV stations on channel 51.
- FCC authority for freeze comes from prior precedent- procedural, thus, no note-and-comment period, also good cause exists for not delaying effect of freeze until 30-days after Federal Register publication hold.
- “Freezing the acceptance of channel 51 applications will ‘stabilize the channel 51 environment’ and ‘create the necessary conditions’ to allow the Commission to consider the matters raised in the Petition in an ‘effective, efficient and meaningful manner.’”
- Waiver of Freeze:
- FCC will, however, consider applications for minor modification where applicant can demonstrate that a waiver is necessary to make changes to the station’s existing facility for technical/other reasons to maintain quality service to public. (“critical modifications”)
- Applications eligible for freeze only if the proposed changes will not expand the station’s existing coverage area and merely propose to replace existing service (unless some expansion is necessary to preserve existing coverage/quality of service)
- i.e., Full power TV apps will not be eligible for waiver if they increase a station’s DTV service in one or more directions
- i.e., Low power apps will not be eligible for waiver if they increase the station’s protected service contour
Channel 51 Application Amendment Window
- Applicants for low power TV on channel 51 must submit an amendment to pending applications to specify another permissible channel below 51 within 60 days of the release date of public notice (by Oct. 21)- if applicants fail to do so, they will be subject to the freeze.
There is also an Appendix to this notice that lists pending channel 51 applications. If you have any questions about this proceeding, please feel free to contact us.