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FCC Television Spectrum Auction - Results for Michigan Stations.

Posted April 15th, 2017 at 6:53 PM by Otter Mii-kun

For those of you that haven’t heard already, over the past year, many television stations in the United States participated in an ‘incentive auction’, where they would sell their spectrum and sign off permanently, to make room for an upcoming removal of Channels 38 and above as part of Obama’s National Broadband Plan. Now that the auction has been completed, the FCC worked on repacking remaining stations into RF Channels 36 and below (Channel 37 is still reserved for radio astronomy).

While not all stations that remain in operation post-auction and repack will change their physical RF channels, many of them that are already on Channel 36 or below are being moved to minimize interference issues once the repack is fully completed.

Many public broadcasters, low-profile independents, and even some major network affiliates and O&Os sold their stations’ spectrum as part of this auction. Among those major network stations that were sold, the vast majority of them are either duopoly members, involved in local marketing or shared services agreements with other stations, or are satellite stations of a particular single broadcaster. Most of the major network affiliates that sold will end up moving their network and local programming (including newscasts) onto another station in the same market via a digital subchannel, in many cases sister stations that are the other duopoly, LMA, or SSA partner, via ‘channel-sharing agreements’.

Since the auctioning of individual stations was a reverse auction, the initial list bids that the FCC posted prior to the start of the auction were way above the payouts that the auctioned-off stations ultimately received, down to as little as 3 percent of the initial opening list prices.

When preparing the channel repack list, the FCC gave focus to full-power and Class A low-power stations when considering the new channels they would be assigned. Many standard low-power stations and translators will end up being kicked off the air permanently as a result, particularly in areas where there are no channel allotments in the 2-36 band available.

Also, some UHF stations across the country will be moving down to High-band VHF (Channels 7-13) or even Low-band VHF (2-6). In an exceptional case, WQED in Pittsburgh will be moving from its High-VHF Channel 13 to Low-VHF Channel 2.

The repack will take place in 10 phases, with each market doing their repacking in no more than two phases. During this repacking process, antenna viewers will need to rescan their digital TV sets or converter boxes to update the channel tables to reflect their remaining stations' new RF channels.

For more information on the spectrum auction and the resulting repack, see https://www.fcc.gov/about-fcc/fcc-initiatives/incentive-auctions .

For the timeline that each phase of the repacking process will take, see https://www.fcc.gov/about-fcc/fcc-initiatives/incentive-auctions/transition-schedule .

For the complete repack channel list for the United States (including stations that have been sold and are signing off permanently), see https://www.rabbitears.info/repackchannels.php .

For purposes of the rest of this article, I’m going to be focusing on what will happen to Michigan’s television stations as a result of the auction and upcoming repack:

Detroit
Phase 3
  • W33BY-D will move from RF 33 to RF 15
  • WDWO-CD will move from RF 18 to RF 22
  • WLPC-CD will move from RF 40 to RF 28
  • WMYD will move from RF 21 (being taken over by WWJ in Phase 8) to RF 31
  • WKBD will move from RF 14 to RF 34 (being vacated by the closing WHTV Jackson)

Phase 8
  • WTVS will move from RF 43 to RF 20
  • WWJ will move from RF 44 to RF 21, taking over that channel from WMYD
  • WPXD will move from RF 50 to RF 24
  • WXYZ will move from RF 41 to RF 25
  • WADL will move from RF 39 to RF 27 (Apparently Adell didn’t get a good enough offer to have his station auctioned off.)
  • WDIV will move from RF 45 to RF 32

Windsor (all Phase 3)
  • CHWI will move from RF 26 to RF 17
  • CICO will move from RF 32 (vacating that channel for WDIV) to RF 19
  • CFTV will move from RF 34 (vacating that channel for WKBD) to RF 30
  • CIII will move from RF 22 to RF 33 (replacing W33BY-D)
Remaining stations WJBK 7, CBET 9, and CHWI 16 will continue on their current RF channels.

Grand Rapids/West Michigan
  • WOBC-CD will move from RF 14 to RF 16
  • WOTV will move from RF 20 to RF 17
  • WZPX will move from RF 44 to RF 21
  • WLLA will move from RF 45 to RF 22
  • WMKG-CD will move from RF 49 to RF 31
  • WOKZ-CD will move from RF 50 to RF 33
  • WOLP-CD will move from RF 41 to RF 35
All station moves will take place in Phase 6
All remaining stations not mentioned in this list will stay on their current RF channels.

Flint/Tri-Cities
  • WCMZ 28 will cease operations entirely
  • WEYI will move from RF 30 (being taken over by WNEM) to RF 18
  • WBSF will move from RF 46 to RF 23 (surprised this channel didn’t get sold in the auction, since its CW programming is already available on WEYI 25.2)
  • WNEM will move from RF 22 to RF 30 (being vacated by WEYI)
  • WAQP will move from RF 48 to RF 36 (being vacated by the closing-down WLNS in Lansing)
WJRT 12, WDCQ 15, and WSMH 16 will remain on their current channels.
All station moves will take place in Phase 3

Lansing
  • WHTV 34 will cease operations permanently (though its programming may be taken over by another station in the market via a subchannel, likely WSYM.)
  • WLNS 36 will cease operations permanently (though its local news and CBS programming will be taken over by another station via a subchannel, likely WLAJ.)
  • WLAJ (which is in a joint sales and shared services agreement with WLNS’s owner Nexstar) will move from RF 25 (being taken over by WXYZ Detroit) to RF 14 (being vacated by WKBD Detroit)
  • WSYM (which operates the soon-to-depart WHTV via a LMA) will move from RF 38 to RF 28 (being vacated by the departing WCMZ Flint)
  • WKAR will move from RF 40 to RF 33
  • WILX will remain on RF 10
All station moves will take place in Phase 7.

Traverse City/Cadillac
  • WCMW will move from RF 21 to RF 20
  • WFUP will move from RF 45 to RF 21
  • WCMV will move from RF 17 to RF 34
  • WPBN will move from RF 47 to RF 35
All station moves will take place in Phase 6.
All remaining full-power stations (WWTV 9, WCMU 26, WGTU 29, and WFQX 32) will stay on their current channels.

Marquette
  • WDHS 8 will cease operations permanently
  • WNMU will move from RF 13 to RF 8 (being vacated by the departing WDHS), in Phase 9
  • WJMN will move from RF 48 to RF 32, in Phase 1
All remaining full-power stations (WBKP 5, WBUP 10, WZMQ 19, and WLUC 35) will stay on their current channels.

Alpena
Both of Alpena’s stations (WBKB 11 and WCML 24) will remain on their current channels.

Sault Ste. Marie
  • WTOM will move from RF 35 to RF 16, in Phase 6
  • CHCH will move from RF 38 to RF 18, in Phase 10
All remaining stations will stay on their current channels.
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