Over the next few years, most digital TV stations across the US (and eventually Canada) will be changing channels as the FCC repacks the TV spectrum so it can sell channels 38-51 (614-698 MHz) to wireless carriers.
Later this spring, the FCC is expected to provide a public list of the new channel assignments that it’s already distributed to TV licensees around the country – but some stations are already revealing their new RF channels, either to the NAB (which has started to compile voluntary disclosures on its own clearinghouse site) or to industry colleagues.
We’ve been putting together as many pieces of the puzzle as we can assemble, and we’ve gathered them in our own list, which subscribers can read below.
A few notes on what we know so far:
There are inexplicable double-swaps. In Binghamton, for instance, WBNG will move from RF 7 to RF 8, while WICZ goes from 8 to 7. It’s not at all clear why the FCC plan mandates such changes (and the needless expense they’ll cause), or whether stations will have an opportunity to propose cost-saving modifications before these new assignments become official.
Everyone has the potential to move. On the UHF dial, in particular, it makes no difference whether a station’s current RF channel is “in-core” (channels 14-36) or “out of core” (38-51); they’re all in a pool that’s subject to being relocated, so while we know that out-of-core stations will all have to relocate, many in-core stations will shift, too. And there’s no advantage or disadvantage in the auction process for stations that are in or out of core – the auction will take a station that’s currently on 14 just as readily as one that’s on 51.
Fewer stations are going away than we initially thought. Did you expect Fox would be shedding its second New York-market signal, WWOR? So did we – but it got a new UHF channel assigned to it. So did Univision’s second New York signal, WFUT. In the end, it looks like the vast majority of TV licenses will survive into the repack era and beyond.
Some broadcasters just aren’t talking. While Sinclair, for instance, has been willing to share all its new channel information, Nexstar isn’t even telling its own local market chief engineers what their new channels will be just yet. So for its stations (and those of several other owners), we’ll have to wait until the full FCC list becomes public.
Do you know something we don’t? Your identity is safe with us when you drop us a line with any channel changes that aren’t listed here. Help us provide your fellow broadcasters with as much information as possible!