As we anticipated, the FCC has suspended indefinitely the opportunity to apply for new, digital low power television (LPTV) stations in non-rural areas, which had been slated to begin on July 26, 2010. Given the FCC’s new focus on repacking and reallocating the television spectrum for use by broadband competitors, the Commission’s postponement of the filing opportunity is not unexpected. In fact, based on the fact that the filing opportunity had been extended once already — from January of this year to July — it was a fairly safe bet that the window would be closed before it even opened once the National Broadband Plan was released in March. It would seem to be counter-intuitive to put more stations into the spectrum that you are working to (potentially) reclaim or repack. And that’s just what the FCC thought as well, as they have now postponed "until further notice" filings for new digital LPTV stations in non-rural areas.
Although it will not accept any applications for brand new digital LPTV stations in non-rural areas on July 26th, the Commission will permit existing LPTV, TV translator, and Class A television stations to file applications seeking digital companion channels in communities nationwide beginning on July 26, 2010. In addition, parties may continue to file for new digital LPTV stations in rural areas, as well as file applications to flash-cut to digital on their current channels. A copy of the FCC’s Public Notice is available here.