Tomorrow, April 14, is the 9th birthday of RabbitEars as you know it today. That was the day that the code Bruce Myers wrote was made public for the first time. Even then, we were in the thick of things, with the DTV transition approaching within a year (before it was delayed by a few months). While work had been on-going for some time, it was April 14 that RabbitEars was made live to the public, tracking the transition and providing useful information for all comers.
In a certain way, it's fitting that one day before the anniversary of the site, I am announcing the launch of a collection of tools I have written with information about the FCC Repacking effort. I won't rule out adding more tools as time goes on, but here's what I have ready as of today's release of the Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice.
This tool contains the full set of repack channel assignments. It relates them by READS Rank, Transition Phase, Operator, and in other ways. The rows are color-coded, with light blue meaning repacked within its current band, green meaning UHF to high-VHF, yellow meaning high-VHF to low-VHF, and red meaning UHF to low-VHF. Uncolored rows are unchanged. Each row also contains links to some of the other tools mentioned here. (One thing that is not mentioned here is which stations elected one or both channel sharing options; stations going off the air in any case are gray. There were so few stations that did not check one or both options that it did not make sense to include support for a feature that would only exclude 10-15 stations total.)
EDIT (4/16/17): This tool now features the Linked Station Set (LSS) ID number, and has links to both the Phase Map and LSS Map for each row which has a value for those fields.
The Repack Checker has been a part of RabbitEars for some years now, periodically receiving updates when new FCC Constraints were published, accessed from the main listings by clicking on the magnifying glass icon found next to any auction-eligible station. The last update was in November 2015, when the constraints used for the repack process were published. Now that the new channel assignments are public, the Repack Checker was updated to allow sorting by "FCC Repack" channel order as well as the several current options.
This map is almost self-explanatory; it shows the new channel assignments on a channel-by-channel basis. There are a few hidden special maps which are not linked directly off that page, which would be this one showing every station that opted to relinquish its spectrum or had its license canceled, and this one showing all of the ones from the previous map plus the stations which are changing band. (So, essentially, all the winning bidders.) As ever, please note RabbitEars uses noise-limited contours for all stations, even LPTV and Class A stations, which are protected to a different threshold by the FCC.
The channel changes that result from the FCC repack will occur in 10 phases, staggering the rescan dates for different markets. This page will allow you to see, in several different ways, what those phases look like and which stations/regions are in each, as well as color-coding them for ease of interpreting and allowing you to look at the phases channel-by-channel. For people who are more interested in wireless than TV, there are even options to look at channels 38-51 as a group to see how quickly the new wireless band will be cleared for use. As ever, please note RabbitEars uses noise-limited contours for all stations, even LPTV and Class A stations, which are protected to a different threshold by the FCC.
As part of the phased transition, some stations have to coordinate with each other in order to ensure their moves do not cause interference within a phase. These groups of stations are called "linked station sets." I've created a set of maps which show the stations included in each of the 83 linked station sets. I'm sorry that they're currently IDed only by their LSS ID number, but that's the only way I have to identify them at this time. Opinions on how to further describe them in that drop-down would be appreciated.
Is there something I could create which might be useful which is not here? Or a feature I could add to one of the above new pages which would be helpful? Leave a comment, send me an e-mail, or post in the appropriate thread on SatelliteGuys or AVSForum, noted below. Please note that I do intend to incorporate some of this information into the main listings over the coming weeks and months, but could not do it in advance of the data going public.
Finally, here are a few interesting statistics about the FCC Repack. I will make no promises about the exact accuracy of these, since I did some of the counts by hand and errors can creep in.
2200 stations were protected in the repack process. Of those:
- 5 either lost their licenses or turned in their licenses during the process.
- 145 opted to relinquish their spectrum completely, either to go off the air or channel share.
- 30 opted to change band, moving from UHF to VHF or high-VHF to low-VHF.
This means that there will be 2050 protected stations going forward.
To break down the 145 relinquishers:
- 52 filed pre-auction channel sharing agreements.
- 81 opted to seek a post-auction channel sharing agreement.
This leaves only 12 stations who had no channel sharing option and will definitely be going off the air entirely.
To break down the 30 band-changers:
- 16 stations accepted UHF to low-VHF bids.
- 1 station (WQED) accepted a high-VHF to low-VHF bid.
- 13 stations accepted UHF to high-VHF bids.
And a few statistics on the remaining 2050 stations:
- 1063 stations are staying put in this process, meaning 987 stations have to move.
- No low-VHF stations are moved; all 17 of the low-VHF bidders can be accommodated without changing the channels of any existing low-VHF stations.
- 67 stations are repacked in high-VHF to accommodate the 13 high-VHF bidders.
- That leaves 890 stations that are repacked within the UHF band.
Got questions? Feel free to leave a comment here, or post in the thread on SatelliteGuys or the thread on AVSForum and I will get back to you in a way that everyone else can benefit from your question.
And so it begins!