LPTV displacement window

While the end of the year is just about upon us, that does not mean that broadcasters can ignore the regulatory world and celebrate the holidays all through December. In fact, this will be a busy regulatory month, as witnessed by the list of issues that we wrote about yesterday to be considered at the FCC meeting on December 14. But, in addition to those issues, there are plenty of other deadlines to keep any broadcaster busy.

December 1 is the due date for all sorts of EEO obligations. By that date, Commercial and Noncommercial Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont that are part of an Employment Unit with 5 or more full-time employees need to place their Annual EEO Public File Reports into the public file (their online public file for TV stations and large-market radio and for those other radio stations that have already converted to the online public file). In addition, EEO Mid-Term Reports on FCC Form 397 are due to be filed at the FCC on December 1 by Radio Station Employment Units with 11 or more full-time employees in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont; and Television Employment Units with five or more full-time employees in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.  We wrote more about the Mid-Term EEO Report here.
Continue Reading December Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – EEO, TV and Translator Filing Windows, Ancillary Revenue Reports, Main Studio Rule Effective Date, Copyright Office Take-Down Notice Registration and More

The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice announcing the opening of its window for full-power and Class A TV stations not repacked during the incentive auction to improve their facilities – the first opportunity to do so since the FCC froze TV minor change applications in 2013 in anticipation of the incentive auction. We wrote

For well over four years, television stations have not been able to file applications to upgrade their technical facilities as the FCC froze such applications as it wanted to preserve a stable database of TV facilities while it conducted the Incentive Auction and implemented the repacking of the TV band. For TV stations affected by the repacking, the FCC has opened two windows allowing repacked stations to change and maximize their technical facilities on their new channels, the second of which will end on November 2 (see our article here). It was generally expected that the next window to open would be one for the filing by LPTV and TV translator stations displaced by the repacking of full-power stations to find new channels on which they could operate. However, the FCC was approached by LPTV and translator advocates who worried that these stations would file their displacement applications, get construction permits and start to construct new facilities on new channels, only to again be displaced when the FCC lifted its freeze on the filing of applications for new facilities by full-power stations not affected by the repacking. They feared that the four years of pent up demand would cause a flood of applications by full-power stations, some of which might displace LPTVs and TV translators on their new displacement channels. To relieve some of that pent up demand by full-power and Class A stations not affected by the repacking, before the LPTV/translator displacement window, the FCC’s Media Bureau yesterday issued a Public Notice announcing that it will temporarily lift the freeze to allow applications by full-power and Class A TV stations that were not affected by the repacking.

The Public Notice does not specify the date for this lifting of the freeze. Instead, that date will be announced in another public notice specifying the limited period during which the freeze will be lifted.  Applications filed after the lifting of the freeze will apparently be processed in the same way as normal minor change applications, on a first-come, first-serve basis. The lifting of the freeze will also allow the FCC to process construction permit applications filed by TV stations before the imposition of the freeze in April 2013 – applications that have been sitting at the FCC since that time.
Continue Reading FCC Announces That It Will Lift Filing Freeze on TV Station Modification Applications before LPTV/TV Translator Displacement Window

Earlier this week, the FCC announced the first of its post-auction filing windows for TV stations that are forced to abandon their current channels as a result of the repacking of the TV band after the broadcast incentive auction. As a result of the shrinking of the TV band, many TV stations were required to

The FCC in a Public Notice released yesterday recognized that some LPTV stations and TV translators may get bumped from their current channels even before full power stations start their transition to new channels to repack the TV band to make parts of it available for wireless Internet operations. The FCC has established windows for the repacking of full-power TV stations where, over a 39 month period, stations that currently operate on Channels 38 and above will be repacked into a smaller TV band under channel 37. LPTV stations are not part of that phased repacking, but instead will have the opportunity to file for displacement channels at some point, probably early next year, if they currently operate on channels 30 or above, or if repacked full-power stations in what will be the core TV band displace the LPTV or translator from their current channel (see our article on that displacement filing window here).

The problem for these secondary stations is that the FCC yesterday announced the grant of construction authorizations for several wireless licensees who bought the cleared TV spectrum. Those wireless companies are free to start testing and operating on portions of the TV band that don’t currently house full-power stations at any time, and some have indicated interest in commencing testing and operations in the very near future. When they do start testing their new facilities on their new spectrum, they may force some existing LPTV stations or TV translators off of their current channels. Once given notice by a wireless operator of its intent to start operations, the LPTV or translator has 120 days to cease operations. If those notices are given in the next month or two, that 120 day period will end before the displacement window for LPTV and translator operators have even filed to seek new channels. So yesterday’s public notice suggested two ways in which these stations can keep operating until they find a permanent, post-repacking home.
Continue Reading FCC Announces Potential Solutions for LPTV Stations that are Displaced Before Getting the Opportunity to File for a New Channel

The FCC last week released a Public Notice describing the process for the filing of applications for replacement channels for LPTV stations and TV translators that are displaced by the incentive auction.  As the repacking of the TV band following the incentive auction will require LPTV and TV translator stations now operating on channels above 37 to move to a new channel below that channel, and as others will be displaced by full-power stations being moved from high channels to channels below 37 (or simply being rearranged on their channels to make room for some of the stations being repacked into the smaller TV band), this displacement window will be necessary for these LPTV/TV translator stations to continue to operate. The Public Notice sets out that the FCC will open a displacement window after full-power stations that were repacked as a result of the incentive auction have had their own windows when they can request alternative channels or increased facilities, as set out in the FCC’s auction Closing Notice (see that notice here).  The FCC estimates that the LPTV/TV Translator window will likely be announced 7 or 8 months after last month’s Closing Notice in the auction – meaning that it is likely to be announced at the end of this year.  As the announcement of the window will give LPTV and translator stations 60 days to prepare applications, and the window itself will last 30 days, it looks like we are looking at displacement applications being due late in the first quarter of 2018.

In addition to displaced LPTV stations and displaced TV translators, full-power TV stations that lost coverage areas because of the repacking will be able to file in this displacement window for a new class of translators.  In fact, these new translators will receive a preference over displacement applications for LPTV stations and TV translators if both happen to file for the same channel.  The FCC will, however, provide mutually exclusive applicants filed during the window an opportunity to move to a different channel to resolve any conflict.
Continue Reading FCC Details Window for LPTV Stations and TV Translators Displaced by the Incentive Auction to Seek New Channels