The FCC has lifted the freeze on the submission of DTV maximization applications and channel changes, effective May 30, 2008. Applications which expand the previously-authorized service area of the post-transition DTV station, or propose the change in the post-transition DTV channel, can now be submitted. All applications and petitions submitted between May 30, 2008, and June 20, 2008, along with those previously-filed applications and petitions which also included a request for waiver of the filing freeze (in place since 2004), will be given the same cut-off date. After June 20, 2008, applications and petitions will be considered filed as of the date they were submitted. Requests to change the community of license of DTV stations will not be permitted at this time.
In the event that two applications submitted during the window are mutually-exclusive, the Commission will grant otherwise-acceptable applications with a specific condition that the mutually-exclusive applicants resolve their conflict with a 30-day settlement window. If the parties cannot resolve the mutual-exclusivity within this period, the applications will be dismissed. Finally, the FCC warned potential filers not to attempt to seek extensions of the construction deadlines based on a pending request for channel change or maximization application.
While the lifting of the freeze is a welcome sight, potential applicants run the risk that they will submit an application that conflicts with those licensees with February, 2009 construction deadlines – some of whom may wait until June 19, 2008, to submit their construction permit applications to implement their post-transition facilities. While the Commission’s
is not entirely clear on this point, it is possible (if not likely) that applicants filing in this window will need to protect those initial construction permit applications submitted on June 19, 2008, and there is also a risk that a minor change application submitted on June 19th will conflict with a maximization application submitted during the window. Therefore, applicants submitting maximization applications and freeze waivers should be sure to protect the Appendix B facilities (as opposed to the already-authorized facilities) of all stations.