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FCC Looks to Free Up Some Birmingham UHF Spectrum

The FCC is looking to reclaim some valuable UHF spectrum in top 50 market Birmingham, Ala., market before the incentive auction.

It is proposing granting a waiver to noncommercial WBIQ(TV) to give up its claim to channel 39 and remain on channel 10.

The Alabama Educational Television Commission in March 2010 asked to switch from ch. 10 to ch. 39 to expand its coverage in the market — UHF's are superior signals in digital, the reverse of analog. But it told the FCC that "economic conditions have been such that AETC has concluded that its limited resources would be better expended in other area than constructing new facilities on a new channel in the Birmingham area."

It pointed out that ch. 39 would be "better suited to future broadband use" than ch. 10.

The FCC has frozen requests for channel changes in the run-up to the incentive auctions as it tries to come up with a new table of allotments, which is why AETC needs a waiver. Giving up ch. 39, it points, out, would better enable the FCC to "evaluate its reallocation and repacking proposals."

The FCC's Media Bureau apparently liked the sound of that. It has proposed granting the waiver.

The bureau has provided a 45-day comment period on the proposal.