FCC Announces Opening of Limited Class A Conversion Window

On May 31, 2024, the Media Bureau released a Public Notice announcing that qualifying low power television stations may apply for Class A status starting on May 31, 2024.  The window will remain open for one year, closing on May 30, 2025.

Applications must be filed electronically via the FCC’s Licensing and Management System (“LMS”) and will carry a fee of $425.00.

As a reminder, only LPTV stations that meet the following requirements are eligible to seek Class A classification:

    • Low Power Television Station: Only LPTV stations, as defined in section 74.701(k) of the FCC’s rules, that have completed the conversion to digital are eligible to participate.  TV translator stations are not be eligible.  Similarly, the small number of analog LPTV stations that have not completed the transition are ineligible, as they cannot meet the programming requirements listed below.
    • Locally Produced Programming:  From October 7, 2022 to January 5, 2023, the station must have broadcast an average of at least 3 hours per week of local programming produced within the market area served by the station.
    • Operating Requirements: From October 7, 2022 to January 5, 2023, the station must have aired 18 hours of programming each day and the station must have been fully operational for at least 18 hours on each day.  Additionally, the station must have complied with the rules for LPTV stations.
    • Designated Market Area: As of January 5, 2023, the station must operate in a Designated Market Area with not more than 95,000 television households.
    • Alternative Eligibility: the FCC will consider additional applicants that do not meet the above if the FCC determines that “the public, interest, convenience, and necessity would be served by treating the station as a qualifying low-power television station.”  The FCC has previously determined that it would allow deviation from statutory eligibility only when the deviation is insignificant or there are compelling circumstances, such as a natural disaster or interference conflicts forcing a station off air, such that equity mandates a deviation.

Applicants will be required to certify that they qualify for Class A eligibility and potentially submit documentation to support their certification.   Applicants will also be required to demonstrate that that they comply with the interference protection standards in 47 U.S.C. § 336(f)(7).  Similarly, applicants will be required to demonstrate they do not cause interference to areas protected by the FCC’s rules, such as the contours of full-power television stations, and that they will protect LPTV and TV translator stations and land mobile stations.  If Class A status is granted, stations must continue to comply with Class A service requirements to maintain their status.

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