FCC Unfreezes TV Station Minor Modifications

FCC's 2020 seal
(Image credit: FCC)

After more than a decade and a half, the FCC is finally lifting the freeze on minor modifications to all full power and class A TV stations and associated rulemaking petitions.

In anticipation of the transition from analog to digital, which didn't happen until 2009 [then extended during the run-up to the broadcast incentive auction and ensuing repack that only ended this year], the FCC in August 2004 froze applications for the following:

1. Petitions for rulemaking to change channels in the DTV Table of Allotments
2. Petitions for rulemaking for new DTV allotments
3. Petitions to swap in-core channels [at that time, "in core" was chs. 2-51]
4. Petitions for rulemaking to change communities of license
5. Modification applications that increase a full power or Class A station’s service area beyond an area that is already served

Back in July, the FCC lifted the freeze for some stations--those still in the process of repacking--but retained it for the rest, which was the vast majority of stations.

They can now come in from the cold as well, effective 15 days after the Media Bureau's decision is published in the Federal Register, which usually takes a couple of weeks.

The FCC is not yet lifting the freeze on applications for new LPTV/translator stations given that those stations are still being displaced by full-power stations settling into their new, repacked, channel locations following the incentive auction repack.

John Eggerton

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.