The FCC spectrum auction is over: What it means to Houston-area viewers

(To avoid confusion I will use the term “frequencies” to refer to physical channel numbers and “channels” to refer to the individual program streams. For example: Channel 14, KETH, broadcasts on frequency 24.)

The Federal Communications Commission recently completed the first reverse auction of spectrum space, which moved several channels out of the TV band and reassigned them to wireless communications. As a result of the auction, stations broadcasting on frequencies above 36 will have to relocate to lower frequencies.

It was a challenge to work out all the channel moves, but in the end, all the UHF frequencies that are available for assignment in the Houston market will be occupied. Some frequencies will not be available in this area. Frequencies 16-18 are reserved for public safety broadcasting (police and fire dispatch). Other frequencies are too close to frequencies being used in adjacent markets and cannot be assigned to stations here.

In the auction, low-power stations were not protected and most were displaced by full-power stations. However, Class A low-power stations were protected and participated alongside full-power stations.

In the Houston area, of the 17 full-power and 2 Class A low-power stations, 11 are remaining on their correct frequencies, and 8 will be shifting to different frequencies between December 1, 2018 and April 12, 2019. No stations will be entering into channel-sharing arrangements.

Here’s a summary of what’s going to happen in Houston:

Frequency 7, KDHU-LD – low VHF, not impacted
Frequency 8, KUHT – no change
Frequency 11, KHOU – no change
Frequency 13, KTRK – no change
Frequency 15, KVVV-LD – fate unknown; not available for full-power due to interference from KFDM in Beaumont
Frequency 19, KTXH (channel 20) – no change
Frequency 21, KVQT-LDdisplaced by KZJL
Frequency 22, KUVM-LD (channel 10) – displaced by KTMD
Frequency 23, KLTJ (channel 22) – no change
Frequency 24, KETH (channel 14) – no change
Frequency 26, KRIV – no change
Frequency 28, KUGB-CD – no change
Frequency 30, KCVH-LD – displaced by KXLN
Frequency 32, KPXB (channel 49) – no change
Frequency 34, KUVM-CD – moving to frequency 20
Frequency 35, KPRC (channel 2) – no change
Frequency 36, KFTH (channel 67) – no change
Frequency 38, KIAH (channel 39) – moving to frequency 34
Frequency 39, KZHO-LD (channel 38) – out of band
Frequency 41, KUBE (channel 57) – moving to frequency 31
Frequency 42, KTBU (channel 55) – moving to frequency 33
Frequency 43, KHLM-LD – out of band
Frequency 44, KZJL (channel 61) – moving to frequency 21
Frequency 45, KXLN – moving to frequency 30
Frequency 46, KBPX-LD – out of band
Frequency 47, KYAZ (channel 51) – moving to frequency 25
Frequency 48, KTMD (channel 47) – moving to frequency 22

Displaced and out-of-band LPTV stations can apply for a new channel assignment in the VHF band, attempt to share with other stations, or go off the air.

So here’s how the new broadcast band will look:

Frequency Call sign PSIP (virtual ch)
8 KUHT 8
11 KHOU 11
13 KTRK-TV 13
14 KBTX, Bryan 3
15 KFDM, Beaumont 6
16 reserved, public safety n/a
17 reserved, public safety n/a
18 reserved, public safety n/a
19 KTXH 20
20 KUVM-CD 34
21 KZJL 61
22 KTMD 47
23 KLTJ 22
24 KETH-TV 14
25 KYAZ 51
26 KRIV 26
27 KBTV, Beaumont 4
28 KUGB-CD 28
29 KITU, Beaumont 34
30 KXLN-DT 45
31 KUBE-TV 57
32 KPXB-TV 49
33 KTBU 55
34 KIAH 39
35 KPRC-TV 2
36 KFTH-DT 67

Posted on April 14, 2017, in Rescan Alert!, Up and Down the Dial and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Houston OTA Fan

    Great summary! Coincidentally, I was searching for this exact information this morning and was unsuccessful in my quest. Many thanks for putting it together.

  2. I was working needing if you could shed any light on the fate of ttwo of the low powers that are transmitting the MyNetwork TV programming here in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area… KUIL RF channel 43 and it’s translator K36ID on RF 36… Is there any word on their fate that you know of?

    • KUIL-LD is on frequency 43 so it is out-of-band and will have to apply for a new channel. I don’t know anything about the future of K36ID-D.

      • Thanks so much for responding. I am guessing the TV band loos off again above channel 36 now? Is ATSC 3.0 that good that it will be able to accommodate all those channels jumbled up together like that? I’ll believe it When I see it myself… And also, I noticed one omision from your chart. I did not know if it was intentional or not, but you listed all of the other Beaumont transmitters but KBMT on RF 12… Just thought I would mention it… Thanks for your answer and compiling the data. Have a great day.

      • I left out KBMT because it isn’t taken into account when assigning frequencies to the Houston stations. KBMT stays on frequency 12.

      • Also, Beaumont is in phase 1 of the repack schedule, so you’ll change before Houston.

      • Oh Wow, I was not aware of that… If you would please indulge me, could you give me a time frame for us and also for Houston? I would very much appreciate it, and thank you again. I hope I’m not too much of an imposition…

  3. Not at all. For Beaumont, the testing phase begins September 14, 2018, and the completion date is November 30, 2018. For Houston (Phase 2), the testing phase begins December 1, 2018 and the completion date is April 12, 2019.

  4. Thanks for putting all this together. I worked in OTA television from 1975 (college) to 1990 in several southeast markets. Was part of a team (station engineering) building a 2000 ft tower in SC. There was a lot of talk back then about DTV but none of it ever predicted it would be such a mess as it is today.

  5. Will rescanning of channels be required as these changes take place?

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