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FCC Freezes Applications for TV Ch. 51

The FCC has put an immediate freeze on future applications to operate TV stations on channel 51, the current upper limit of the broadcast spectrum band, as well as on any current applications to operate on that channel.

The freeze is temporary while it considers a wireless industry request for rulemaking to prevent interference with wireless operations by prohibiting operation on the channel and accelerating broadcasters' voluntary relocation through agreements with wireless companies. CTIA had asked for the freezes as well.

The FCC will accelerate "action on moving broadcasters who have agreed voluntarily to relocate from channel 51 by lifting a freeze on those petitions, and will allow low-power stations who have applied to operate on the channel 60 days to amend the applications and request an alternative channel.

"We agree that freezing the acceptance of channel 51 applications will 'stabilize the channel 51 environment' and 'create the necessary conditions' to allow the Commission to consider the matters raised in the Petition in an 'effective, efficient and meaningful manner.'"

The FCC said stations currently operating on channel 51 could continue to do so and build out currently authorized facilities and that it would entertain waivers of the freeze under special circumstances.

Because the freeze is procedural -- while the FCC considers the petition -- the Commission said it is not subject to notice or comment or for delay until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.