Friday, December 18, 2009

Long-haul TV moves denied, but new channels anyway...

The FCC has denied the applications of two Western TV stations to move to large East Coast cities.

The FCC has denied PMCM's requests to move KVNV-3 Ely, Nevada to Middletown Township, New Jersey and KJWY-2 from Jackson, Wyoming to Wilmington, Delaware. They ruled that the definition of "reallocation" is the move of a channel from one place to another place **when the channel cannot be used in both places simultaneously**. Provisions of the "Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982" **required** the FCC to approve such a reallocation if the station requested and it would place a commercial VHF channel in a state that didn't already have one. (New Jersey and Delaware were the only two such states)

The result of (and the reason for) the 1982 Act was to allow WOR-9 New York City to move to Secaucus, New Jersey and thus escape the revocation of its license due to misdeeds at the station's corporate owner.

Obviously, the use of channel 2 in Jackson, Wyoming does NOT preclude the use of the same channel in Wilmington, Delaware!

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HOWEVER...

The 1982 Act also mandates that "It shall be the policy of the Federal Communications Commission to allocate
channels for very high frequency commercial television broadcasting in a
manner which ensures that not less than one such channel shall be allocated to
each State, if technically feasible."

In 1982, it was *not* "technically feasible" to allocate new VHF channels to New Jersey or Delaware, without moving an existing station.

In 2009, due to the widespread abandonment of low-band VHF with DTV, it *is* technically feasible.

(and yes, New Jersey is again without a commercial VHF station. WOR -- now WWOR -- elected to leave its permanent DTV facility on its interim channel 38. No Philadelphia station ever took advantage of the 1982 Act to move to Delaware, so Delaware has never had a commercial VHF station.)

The FCC feels they're required to allocate at least one VHF commercial station to each state. To that end, they have on their own motion proposed to allot:

Channel 4 to Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Channel 5 to Seaford, Delaware.

Note that the PMCM proposals would have the channel 3 transmitter in NYC and the channel 2 transmitter in Philadelphia. (leaving no doubt as to which cities they *really* proposed to serve!) The FCC-proposed communities are far enough from NYC and Philadelphia that the NYC/Philly tower farms could not be used -- a transmitter in NYC could not provide a city-grade to Atlantic City, and a transmitter in Philadelphia could not provide a city-grade to Seaford.

It *might*, however, be possible to site a transmitter *between* Atlantic City and NYC such that a city-grade could be provided over both cities simultaneously. (and likewise with Seaford and Philadelphia) In both cases, rabbit-ears reception would be unlikely in either city, but cable must-carry might be possible...

2 comments:

Doug Smith said...

Actually, it's not true that Delaware has never had a commercial VHF station.

In the early days of TV, there was a WDEL-TV on channel 7 in Wilmington.

The corporate owners of WDEL-TV owned several other stations, and in the mid-1950s had an opportunity to acquire WITI-TV Milwaukee.

In any case, WDEL-TV went off the air. The Wilmington VHF channel would be resurrected in 1961, but for a non-commercial station, WHYY.

Similarly, the only VHF channel in New Jersey before WOR moved in 1982 was originally a commercial station. Newark's channel 13 went through several callsigns as a commercial operation before ending up as educational station WNET.

Purchase of WITI would put them over the multiple-ownership limits; to buy the Milwaukee station they'd have to divest a station somewhere else.

I'm not sure why they decided to surrender the WDEL-TV license rather than selling the station.

Doug Smith said...

Well, that other comment is accurate but I don't know how I got the blocks of text misordered like that!