News | June 18, 2020

Post-Broadcast Television Incentive Auction Transition Deadline Approaching

WFOX-TV in Jacksonville Granted Brief Extension to September 8

The Federal Communications Commission has voted unanimously to grant Cox Television Jacksonville LLC, the licensee of station WFOX-TV, Jacksonville, Florida, a brief extension to September 8, 2020, of its July 3 deadline to transition to a new channel as part of the post-incentive auction broadcast transition. The Commission found that circumstances beyond the station’s control require additional time for the station to resolve interference concerns with land mobile operations on its new channel. Absent the extension, WFOX-TV would have to go off the air, depriving its viewers of the station’s programming during a national emergency. This extension will not delay the transition of any other station. Moreover, because WFOX-TV’s current channel is below 37, it also will not slow the delivery of new 600 MHz wireless broadband to American consumers.

“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of broadcasters, tower crews, and the wireless industry over the past three years, over 90% of 987 affected television stations have already vacated their pre-auction channels, and wireless services, including 5G, are currently being delivered throughout the United States over the 600 MHz band,” said Jean Kiddoo, Chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force. “Indeed, even during a global pandemic that caused some temporary work stoppages over the last few months, many TV stations have been able to successfully meet their transition deadlines, and we anticipate that the vast majority of remaining television stations will meet their July 3 deadline.”

The incentive auction made valuable low-band airwaves available for wireless broadband, benefiting millions of U.S. consumers by easing congestion on wireless networks, improving wireless coverage in rural America, laying the groundwork for 5G wireless services and applications, and spurring job creation and economic growth. As a critical part of clearing the new 600 MHz band for mobile broadband use, 987 full-power and Class A TV stations were reassigned to new TV channels. The Commission created a 10-phase transition plan that solved interference problems and accounted for limited resources to assure that the spectrum could be available by July 13, 2020. The plan has been operating successfully. Of the 987 TV stations that were assigned to new channels, only 92 stations have yet to transition, and the Commission does not anticipate the need for more than a few other short extensions where, like WFOX, unforeseeable circumstances may also arise through no fault of a television station.

Source: The Federal Communications Commission