This week ,the FCC issued a Public Notice addressing the issue of LPTV stations eager to displace to a new channel or switch to digital operations following the transition of full powers to DTV. (Please note, this notice does not address the filing of applications for brand new LPTV stations, which are still frozen). Many LPTV stations are eager to take advantage of the channels being returned by full power stations either to move their operations to those channels or to flash-cut to digital on their own channel now that an adjacent full-power station is gone.
In fact, some LPTV stations have already submitted applications seeking to move to a channel that is still occupied by a full power station, and which won’t vacate the channel until June 12th. Because such applications did not comply with the then-current (pre-transition) interference landscape, they were not grantable at the time of filing, but will become grantable after June 12th. Similarly, many folks have their eye on a particular channel, and once the full power station terminates, the LPTVs will rush to move to that (now) vacant channel. The FCC’s Public Notice states that for purposes of determining who filed first, the FCC will treat all such applications as though they were all filed on June 30th. Thus, there was no advantage to the LPTV station that filed for a channel last month that’s still occupied by a full power, and there’s no rush to be the first one to file for a newly vacated channel come 12:01 AM on June 13th.
What this means, however, is that if any LPTV station intends to take advantage of the full power DTV transition to displace to a newly vacated channel or to flash-cut to digital in a way that would be precluded because of pre-transition interference, any application filed between now and June 30th will be considered as filed the same day as any pending non-compliant application or application filed between now and the 30th that has a conflicting proposal.
This Public Notice does not appear to impact applications proposing changes that comply with the pre-transition interference landscape, which still can be filed at any time and should be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.