WASHINGTON, DC -- For years, the FCC has allowed television stations to reduce operating expenses by forming duopolies or other agreements where multiple stations are operated under one roof. We have examples of this here in Syracuse and Utica. And soon, there could be another chance to save more money: the FCC has announced a policy which would allow TV stations to share the bandwidth of a single digital channel.
Although the announcement was included in today's FCC Daily Digest, it was actually issued on Friday. The FCC says "two or more television licensees may voluntarily share a single six MHz channel," as part of an effort to open up more spectrum for mobile broadband use. In the announcement, the FCC says two stations could share one channel and one transmitter, but still retain separate program streams, separate call letters and "all the rights pertaining to an FCC license."
The FCC announcement says "the new rules apply to fill power and Class A television stations, including both commercial and noncommercial educational television stations."
In Syracuse, one likely pairing could consist of NBC3 (WSTM) and CBS5 (WTVH), which have been operating together through a joint sales agreement since 2009. GM Chris Geiger told CNYTVNews.com he could not comment on the new FCC ruling today.
A short walk down James Street, a similar arrangement exists where Fox 68 (WSYT) and My43 (WNYS) operate out of a shared facility.
And in Utica, ABC affiliate WUTR and Fox affiliate WFXV share facilities atop Smith Hill. CNYTVNews.com contacted GM Stephen Merren for comment, but he did not respond to our email prior to publication. (We'll update the story if he does respond later.)
The FCC said stations would be required to "retain at least one standard definition programming stream to meet the FCC’s requirement of providing an over-the-air video broadcast at no direct charge to viewers," but beyond that, station pairs would "have the flexibility of tailoring their channel sharing agreements to meet their individual programming and economic needs."