A freeze on technical improvements by full-power TV stations is about to come to an end after more than 15 years. Television stations have been unable to improve their coverage areas by a freeze first instituted in 2004 to allow the FCC to deal with a stable database of television stations during the transition to digital operations. After that, the freeze was soon reinstated to facilitate the incentive auction and subsequent repacking of the TV band into less spectrum so that TV channels above 37 could be auctioned for use for new wireless communications technologies. The FCC’s Media Bureau yesterday issued a Public Notice announcing that it will finally lift the filing freeze – that thaw to be effective 15 days after the Public Notice is published in the Federal Register.
Specifically, the Bureau will lift the restrictions on the following types of applications:
- Petitions for rulemaking to change channels in the DTV Table of Allotments (where a station moves from one channel to another) or petitions to swap channels between two existing stations.
- Petitions for rulemaking for new DTV allotments which could give broadcasters the opportunity to apply for new TV stations.
- Petitions for rulemaking to change communities of license.
- Modification applications that increase a full power or Class A station’s service area beyond an area that is already served.