FCC Locks in Dates for Short Lifting of Upgrade Freeze for Unrepacked TV Stations
As Lauren Lynch Flick wrote here several weeks ago, the FCC announced in October that it would be lifting its 2013 freeze on certain TV station modification applications that would increase a station’s coverage area. Lifting the freeze would let full-power and Class A TV stations that weren’t able to expand facilities in the just-ended modification windows for repacked stations (ie, stations that were not affected by the repack) to do so for the first time in nearly five years.
The purpose of the planned thaw is to let these stations implement desired modifications of their facilities long prohibited by the freeze, as well as to react to changes in coverage and interference coming from competing stations that were repacked. By lifting the 2013 freeze before the FCC opens its planned Special Displacement Window for LPTV stations early next year, the FCC hopes to avoid having LPTV stations apply for and build out displacement facilities only to then be displaced again when these long-frozen full-power and Class A TV stations finally have a chance to modify their facilities.
The news released by the FCC this afternoon is that the thaw will commence on November 28, and will be quite short in duration, ending at 11:59 pm Eastern on December 7. During this period, full-power and Class A TV stations that were not assigned a new channel in the repack will be able to file for minor modifications of their facilities. Unlike other recent filing windows where applications filed at any time during the window were all treated as having been filed on the same day, applications filed in this window will be processed on a first come, first served basis. That means there is a definite benefit to filing on the first day of the window.
While most stations that avoided being moved to a new channel in the repack were thrilled by that fact, being locked in place while those all around them modify and maximize facilities has been frustrating. Now they have a chance to join other stations in nudging and jostling for position in a post-repack world. They will need to move quickly, however. Winter is coming.