Photo courtesy of the Creative Commons Licence

The FCC has lifted the freeze on filing applications for minor changes in existing Low Power TV (LPTV) and TV translator stations, effective today, July 3.

The freeze was lifted without advance warning, and applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. This process is different from the recent window for filing displacement applications seeking new channels, where all applications filed while the window was open are being processed if they were filed on the same day. This time, if conflicting applications are filed on different days, the earliest application filed will prevail, and later filings will be dismissed. All applications filed on the same calendar date will be treated as equally, regardless of the time of day they are filed. All applications must be filed electronically, and the calendar day does not close until 11:59 p.m. EST.

It looks like LPTV/TV translator operators who want to maximize their chances of a grant will be busy over the Independence Day holiday, scrambling during the fireworks to be first in line.

The lifting of the freeze applies to only secondary services – LPTV and TV translator stations. Minor change applications for full power and Class A TV stations remain frozen.

Applications may be filed for only minor changes to authorized facilities and pending applications, which means that the protected service contour of the requested facilities must overlap the previously authorized or proposed protected contour, and a transmitter site may not be moved more than 30 miles. The freeze remains in place for both major changes and minor change displacement applications, which means that no application may request a channel change or large site move. Applications may request minor changes in both existing licensed stations and unbuilt stations authorized by granted construction permits.

Applications will not be accepted for new digital channels to serve as companions to stations that still have analog licenses or construction permits; nor may any applications be filed for new stations.

The FCC’s Public Notice, released today, states that the purpose of the freeze was to maintain a stable database of LPTV and TV translator facilities while full power and Class A stations were applying for facilities pursuant to the repacking of the TV spectrum from Channels 2-51 to Channels 2-36. Since the application window for full power and Class A stations to request changes has closed, the FCC no longer sees a need to restrict secondary services from making changes that are a normal part of the broadcasting business. As has always been the case, applications for minor changes will have to protect both authorized facilities and pending applications by full power and Class A stations.

If you have any questions about the new filing opportunity or would like assistance on making a file, our attorneys are ready to help at 703-812-0400.