The FCC is inclined to allow KGW-TV Portland, Ore., to change from a VHF to a UHF, but is seeking input on that inclination.
It has given commenters until 25 days after publication of Wednesday's (Oct. 14) petition for rulemaking in the Federal Register, which usually takes a couple of weeks.
There has been a freeze on such changes for almost a decade, dating from when the FCC first started to prepare for the 2016 broadcast incentive auction.
KGW-TV is seeking a waiver of that freeze so it can move from channel 8 to channel 26 and thus from VHF to UHF and better serve its viewers given that UHF is the stronger signal in digital, as VHF was in analog.
KGW-TV licensee Sander Operating Co. said that ever since the 2009 digital switch, it has gotten "a steady stream of complaints from viewers unable to receive the station’s over-the-air signal, despite being able to receive signals from other local stations.”
Sander said it has determined that its move to a UHF channel, including the equipment vendors involved, will not impede any repack-related efforts by other stations in its market.
In response to the request, the FCC said: "We believe that a waiver of the channel substitution freeze would serve the public interest." One thing arguing in favor of the waiver, the FCC suggested, would be that relatively few viewers would be adversely impacted. "[T]he Commission has found that population loss of less than 500 persons is de minimis,18 and the predicted population loss is only 417 persons who would not otherwise be well-served," it said.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.