MMTC fights to repurpose TV channels for radio


VHF television channels 5 and 6 occupy the window of spectrum directly bordering the lower end of the noncommercial FM band. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council argues that they would do much to diversify ownership if repurposed for FM broadcast. NAB and MSTV are trying to keep them available for television.

MMTC has petitioned the FCC to redirect applications for new LPTVs, Class As and TV translators headed for Channel 5 and 6 to other available spots on the dial pending a decision on using the frequencies for radio as part of the ongoing diversity proceeding.

MMTC believes that LPFMs, non-commercial FMs and signal-challenged AMs could go to the new frequencies and greatly increase the ownership diversity of US broadcast radio. It would also increase the prospects of success for minority owners who frequently are the ones trying to get by with a weak AM signal.

There are relatively few applicants for television channels on the two channels, and MMTC believes that most if not all could be redirected. Even if they couldn’t, it says the small number of applications would have far less impact on overall diversity than would repurposing the channels for radio.

“As previously indicated, [Broadcast Maximization Committee]’s comprehensive plan for the use of Channels 5 and 6 will provide enormous benefits to existing NCE, LPFM and AM stations” wrote MMTC’s David Honig. “This opportunity may be the only means to save AM stations in a digital-only world. The Commission has offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to solicit ideas for these channels and it would be profoundly short sighted if the Commission compromised this opportunity by accepting and processing LPTV and television translator applications for these channels, especially when there may be other channels available including UHF channels which are more suitable for digital use.”