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Raycom to FCC: Lack of Channel Change Hurts Minorities

In a letter to FCC acting chair Mignon Clyburn, Raycom says the commission’s inaction on its request to move WMC-TV Memphis from VHF Ch. 5 to UHF Ch. 17 is harming viewers, particularly low-income and minority households.

Raycom says its petition has been pending for more than two years—which means before the FCC froze such petitions as it figures out where to put stations after the incentive auctions.

Raycom adds WMC lost thousands of viewers in the 2009 switch to digital (UHF channels are better for delivering signals in DTV, the opposite of analog), and most of the losses were low-income and minority viewers. WMC says 15% of viewers in focus groups had trouble receiving its signal while virtually none had problems receiving other signals.

Raycom also notes viewers say they are paying for programming that is “specifically developed for the African-American community.” This is a reference to Raycom being the first station group in the country to launch the Bounce TV network. Now, “much of the target audience in Memphis is being deprived of the opportunity to view it over the air,” Raycom says.