The FCC on Thursday (3/23) unanimously approved a Report and Order that would authorize channel sharing outside the context of the incentive auction.
The vote, which saw Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn approve and concur in part, permits stations with auction-related channel sharing agreements to continue to operate if their auction-related agreements expire or otherwise terminate.
The Report and Order (GN Docket No. 12-268; MB Docket No. 03-185; MB Docket No. 15-137) also effectively extends the ability to share channels beyond a temporary time frame associated with a post-incentive auction “repack,” which will become necessary as spectrum is handed to wireless carriers.
Specifically, the R&O permits television broadcast stations with an auction-related channel sharing agreement (CSA) to continue channel sharing by entering into a new CSA in the event that their existing agreement ends. This enables stations to continue providing service to their viewers.
The new rules also permit Class A stations to channel share outside of the auction context.
Perhaps most significantly, all low-power TV stations (LPTV) and TV translator stations are now able to share a channel with a full power or Class A station. This flexibility gives LPTV and TV translator stations that are displaced by the auction repacking process more options for continuing to operate. It also may reduce construction and operating costs for LPTV and TV translator stations, many of which have limited resources, are minority-owned, or provide programming to underserved audiences, the Commission ruled.