The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice (linked here) announcing that it will open the post-Incentive Auction “second filing window” on Tuesday, October 3, 2017.  In this window, any repacked TV station, including stations that changed from UHF to VHF during the incentive auction and repacked Class A stations, can file an amendment to its initial construction permit application (if still pending), or a modification to its construction permit (if granted) to seek an alternate channel or expanded facilities from those specified in the April 13, 2017 Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice.   This follows the first window (about which we wrote here) which allowed certain stations that could not construct on their assigned channels to seek new ones, and it precedes a future window for displaced LPTV and TV translators to seek new channels (see our articles here and here).

This window gives TV stations an opportunity to apply for a greater coverage area if such an upgrade is possible without creating interference to any other station.  The window will close at 11:59 pm EDT on Thursday, November 2, 2017.  Repacked stations should now be consulting with their engineers about their options in order to meet the filing deadline.

The Public Notice the requirements and procedures for filing for this second filing window. Some of the issued noted by the FCC include:

  • Applications for expanded facilities are limited to those that qualify as a minor change under the Commission’s rules.  Applications for alternate channels are major change applications and are subject to the local public notice requirements in the Commission’s rules, including a 30-day period for the filing of petitions to deny.
  • Applicants in the second filing window must protect the facilities proposed in construction permit applications that are already on file in prior post-incentive auction filing windows, whether those applications have been granted or remain pending. Applications must also protect facilities specified in applications with “cut-off” protection that were filed before the April 2013 pre-auction freeze on the processing of TV construction permit applications went into effect.  Applications filed in this new window by Class A station must also demonstrate non-interference to previously-proposed LPTV and TV translator facilities.
  • For purposes of the determining mutual exclusivity, the FCC will treat all applications filed during the filing window as being filed on the last day of the window – in other words, applications filed early in the window do not get a preference over those filed later.  In cases of mutual exclusivity (where two applications cannot both be granted because of interference concerns), the FCC will notify the applicants and provide a 90-day settlement period.
  • An applicant filing an incomplete or defective application during the second filing window will be provided with one opportunity to cure any defects in the application.  Failure to cure will result in dismissal of the application.
  • Additional costs incurred in constructing alternate channels or expanded facilities will not be reimbursed by the FCC as part of the repacking reimbursement process. The FCC will reimburse stations only for the costs of replicating their pre-auction facilities, not in improving them.

Obviously, review the notice carefully before filing to make sure that you observe all of the required procedures. This window provides an opportunity for some TV broadcasters to upgrade their service contours. If you are interested to see if there are possibilities for your station, you should be talking with your engineer now to see if you can take advantage of this preferred filing window.