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Spectrum Auction Over: 175 TV Stations Take Money to Vacate Their Channels

Phillip Dampier April 13, 2017 Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't 35 Comments


An unprecedented 175 free over-the-air television signals will sign off on their current channels for good in return for an average of tens of millions in compensation paid by Comcast, Dish Networks, and various wireless companies that want their frequencies to bolster their mobile networks.

The UHF dial compression comes courtesy of the latest FCC spectrum auction, which allowed bidders to entice over-the-air television stations to give up their frequencies to make room for wireless companies trying to bolster their 4G LTE networks. At least 957 stations across the country will have to move to new channels as the FCC compresses the TV dial to make room for wireless providers.

Virtually all the affected stations won’t disappear from free over-the-air TV for good, however. Of the 175 stations, 133 plan to make a deal with another local station to relaunch as a secondary digital channel, 29 will move from a UHF channel to a new VHF channel (2-13), and one channel will move from a high VHF channel to a low numbered one.

The move was very profitable to some major market stations, where the TV dial is already crowded with signals. WWTO-TV, a TBN affiliate airing Christian TV programming in LaSalle/Chicago, Ill. won the highest amount of any station in the country to put its transmitter off the air – $304 million. The biggest non-commercial auction winner was New Jersey’s Public Broadcasting Authority, which won $194 million to switch off WNJN in Montclair, N.Y.

The winners are 50 wireless bidders who want the frequencies to improve their wireless networks by increasing the amount of spectrum they can use in the coveted 600MHz band. Signals at these frequencies do a better job penetrating buildings and around natural obstacles and terrain. The result will be improved coverage and signal quality, with fewer dropped calls.

“The conclusion of the world’s first incentive auction is a major milestone in the FCC’s long history as steward of the nation’s airwaves,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai. “Consumers are the real beneficiaries, as broadcasters invest new resources in programming and service, and additional wireless spectrum opens the way to greater competition and innovation in the mobile broadband marketplace.”

Stations can begin vacating their frequencies this year. Among the 957 stations that have to change channel numbers, the first of a series of channel changes will begin on Nov. 30, 2018. The last changes should take place just over three years from now.

Are you affected? Here is the list of channels going off the air or relocating to a different band:

Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.

  • WCDC-TV UHF Going off the air

Augusta, Ga.

  • WAGT-TV UHF Going off the air

Baltimore, Md.

  • WUTB-TV UHF Going off the air

Boston, Mass.

  • WBIN-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WDPX-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WFXZ-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WGBH-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel
  • WLVI-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WMFP-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WYCN-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WYDN-TV UHF Going off the air

Buffalo, N.Y.

  • WIVB-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WNYB-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel
  • WVTT-CD UHF Moving to High VHF Channel

Burlington, Vt.-Plattsburgh, N.Y.

  • WNNE-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WVTA-TV UHF Going off the air

Charleston-Huntington, W.V.

  • WPBO-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WTSF-TV UHF Moving to High VHF Channel

Charlotte, N.C.

  • WLNN-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WMYT-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WTBL-CD UHF Going off the air

Charlottesville, Va.

  • WVIR-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel

Chattanooga, Tenn.

  • WNGH-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel
  • WTNB-CD UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel

Chicago, Ill.

  • WOCH-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WPWR-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WSNS-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WWTO-TV High VHF Channel Going off the air
  • WXFT-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WYCC-TV UHF Going off the air

Cincinnati, Oh.

  • WOTH-CD UHF Going off the air

Cleveland-Akron, Oh.

  • WAOH-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WDLI-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WGGN-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel
  • WRLM-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WUAB-TV UHF Going off the air

Columbus, Ga.

  • WJSP-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel

Columbus, Oh.

  • WOUC-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel
  • WSFJ-TV UHF Going off the air

Dallas-Ft. Worth, Tex.

  • KATA-CD UHF Going off the air

Dayton, Oh.

  • WBDT-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WKOI-TV UHF Going off the air

Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Mich.

  • WCMZ-TV UHF Going off the air

Greensboro-High Point-Winston, N.C.

  • WCWG-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WLXI-TV UHF Going off the air

Greenville-New Bern-Washington, N.C.

  • WFXI-TV High VHF Channel Going off the air

Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.

  • WGGS-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel
  • WRET-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WYCW-TV UHF Going off the air

Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Pa.

  • WGCB-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WLYH-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WPMT-TV UHF Going off the air

Harrisonburg, Va.

  • WAZH-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WVPY-TV UHF Going off the air

Hartford-New Haven, Conn.

  • WCTX-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WEDY-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WRDM-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WUVN-TV UHF Going off the air

Huntsville-Decatur-Florence, Ala.

  • WHDF-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel

Indianapolis, Ind.

  • WCLJ-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WHMB-TV UHF Moving to High VHF Channel
  • WNDY-TV UHF Going off the air

Johnstown-Altoona, Pa.

  • WKBS-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel

Knoxville, Tenn.

  • WAGV-TV UHF Going off the air

Lansing, Mich.

  • WHTV-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WLNS-TV UHF Going off the air

Lima, Oh.

  • WTLW-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel

Los Angeles, Calif.

  • KAZA-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KBEH-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KDOC-TV UHF Moving to High VHF Channel
  • KILM-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KJLA-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KLCS-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KNET-CD UHF Going off the air
  • KOCE-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KRCA-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KSFV-CD UHF Going off the air
  • KVCR-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel
  • KWHY-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel

Louisville, Ky.

  • WBKI-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WWJS-CD UHF Going off the air

Madison, Wisc.

  • WISC-TV UHF Moving to High VHF Channel

Memphis, Tenn.

  • WWTW-TV UHF Going off the air

Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

  • WDLP-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WIMP-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WLPH-CD UHF Going off the air

Milwaukee, Wisc.

  • WCGV-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WMLW-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WMVT-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WVCY-TV UHF Going off the air

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

  • KCCO-TV High VHF Channel Going off the air

Monterey-Salinas, Calif.

  • KSMS-TV UHF Going off the air

Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C.

  • WGSI-CD High VHF Channel Going off the air

New York, N.Y.

  • WEBR-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WMBQ-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WMUN-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WNBC-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WNJN-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WNYJ-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WRNN-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WTBY-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WXTV-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WZME-TV UHF Going off the air

Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Fla.

  • WACX-TV UHF Moving to High VHF Channel
  • WTGL-TV UHF Going off the air

Philadelphia, Pa.

  • WFMZ-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WGTW-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WLVT-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WMCN-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WNJT-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WTSD-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WTVE-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WUVP-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WWSI-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WYBE-TV UHF Going off the air

Pittsburgh, Pa.

  • WBOA-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WEMW-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WEPA-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WNNB-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WPCP-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WQED-TV High VHF Moving to Low VHF Channel
  • WQVC-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WVTX-CD UHF Going off the air

Providence, R.I.-New Bedford, Mass.

  • WLWC-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WRIW-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WSBE-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel

Puerto Rico

  • WDWL-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WELU-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WIRS-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WKPV-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WMEI-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WSJU-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WTCV-TV UHF Going off the air

Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

  • WFPX-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WHFL-CD UHF Moving to High VHF Channel
  • WNCN-TV UHF Moving to High VHF Channel
  • WRAY-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WZGS-CD UHF Going off the air

Richmond-Petersburg, Va.

  • WUPV-TV UHF Moving to High VHF Channel

Roanoke-Lynchburg, Va.

  • WFFP-TV UHF Going off the air

Rockford, Ill.

  • WIFR-TV UHF Going off the air

San Diego, Calif.

  • K35DG-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KSEX-CD UHF Going off the air

San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif.

  • KEMO-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KEXT-CD UHF Going off the air
  • KMPT-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KOFY-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KQEH-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KRCB-TV UHF Moving to Low VHF Channel
  • KRON-TV UHF Moving to High VHF Channel
  • KTLN-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KTNC-TV UHF Going off the air
  • KTSF-TV UHF Going off the air

Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Caballero, Calif.

  • KMMA-CD UHF Going off the air

Springfield, Mo.

  • KSPR-TV UHF Going off the air

Springfield-Holyoke, Mass.

  • WGBY-TV UHF Moving to High VHF Channel

Syracuse, N.Y.

  • WNYI-TV UHF Moving to High VHF Channel

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, Fla.

  • WUSF-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WTTA-TV UHF Going off the air

Tri-Cities, Tenn.

  • WAPG-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WMSY-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WSBN-TV UHF Going off the air

Tyler-Longview, Tex.

  • KCEB-TV UHF Going off the air

Washington, D.C.

  • WAZF-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WDCA-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WDCW-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WJAL-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WMDO-CD UHF Going off the air
  • WNVC-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WNVT-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WZDC-CD UHF Going off the air

West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, Fla.

  • WFGC-TV UHF Moving to High VHF Channel
  • WXEL-TV UHF Going off the air

Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Pa.

  • WKBN-TV UHF Going off the air
  • WVIA-TV UHF Going off the air
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7 years ago

Money trumps everything.

7 years ago
Reply to  Matt

Yep. The Federal Government, that did not invent, discover, or create the radio spectrum made out like a bandit; 7.3 Billion dollars. Technology has come a long way. At one time UHF Tv stations had to be set with an interval of 6 stations within the same Tv market 14, 20,26,32…., with 83 being the top of the dial until 1982. Now UHF can alternate channels in the same Tv market, just like VHF has done since the beginning of Tv broadcasting (1930’s/40’s). The new ATSC 3.0 standard may allow even tighter station packing. There is no good reason to… Read more »

Kenneth Richner
Kenneth Richner
7 years ago

It was inevitable first the copper phone lines now OTA TV broadcasts will die! This has to stop! Next terrestrial radio will get shut down!! Wireless internet is not a feasible alternative to broadcast anything!!! There are still people who can’t access affordable internet like me I am forced to use a hotspot for anything beyond the few digital TV stations I can get, ATT refused to connect me and Charter ended there Cable on the property next to me (they want me to pay for a pole to gap a bridge to get there service, so when I loose… Read more »

7 years ago
7 years ago

the two guys above me are completely ignorant, the article clearly states that the stations are just MOVING and will not go off the air, also this auction was completely voluntary and the TV stations did not need to sell if they didnt want to, in all reality they won big because every single one of the was awarded their spectrum for FREE and they just got to sell it for a boat load, i would also like to note that the author is really stretching some facts here, neither dish nor comcast “won big” comcast got very little spectrum… Read more »

Kenneth Richner
Kenneth Richner
7 years ago
Reply to  AaronG

AaronG If you would read the whole article your will see over 90% of these stations are GOING OFF THE AIR! HERE IF YOU DIDN’T SEE IT THE FIRST TIME There’s 10 pages of what the stations are doing after they sold did you skip past most of the article just to bash people who actually read?. “Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, Fla. WUSF-TV UHF Going off the air WTTA-TV UHF Going off the air Tri-Cities, Tenn. WAPG-CD UHF Going off the air WMSY-TV UHF Going off the air WSBN-TV UHF Going off the air Tyler-Longview, Tex. KCEB-TV UHF Going off the air… Read more »

Rob Hoffmann
Rob Hoffmann
7 years ago

Keep in mind that many of the stations going “off the air” have made deals — or have duopoly partners — that will allow the stations to stay on the air as a digital subchannel. While it’s off-putting to see the first television license, WNBC/New York, going dark – it’s really not. WNBC will simply become WNJU-DT2 and use PSP to be seen as Channel 4 over the air even though it hasn’t been Channel 4 since the digital transition. And yes, over-the-air television is going to die out. Why spend all that money pumping out an OTA signal to… Read more »

Kenneth Richner
Kenneth Richner
7 years ago
Reply to  Rob Hoffmann

True but it kills our infastructue if there is ever a major event that takes out our satellite communications and or our land based Cable communication, eg a EMP (from N Korea) a serious solar flare, we will really be in the dark with no way to reach out to the public the whole system was built out with that in mind unless they run fiber to the door (inherently immune to this) at every home in the USA I know that will never happen you will be tied to a static location if it’s piped in those unfortunately that… Read more »

Laura Harrison
Laura Harrison
6 years ago

Glad someone thinks the way I do! I have 3 channels from my antenna and all are going off air. I refuse to pay over 100$ a month for TV and take away from grocerie $$. None of those companies are available where I live, just dish network. Monopolizing bastards, stupid ones at that. One click and our communication is shut down. These large companies choking the individual or small ones out. 😡

6 years ago
Reply to  Rob Hoffmann

Actually more people are going to ota tv every day especially where I live in central ny walmart can’t keep enough outdoor antennas in stock so get your facts straight b4 u shoot your mouth off

6 years ago
Reply to  Rob Hoffmann

Actually more people are going to ota tv every day especially where I live walmart can’t keep enough outdoor antennas in stock so get your facts straight b4 u shoot your mouth off

Mike S.
Mike S.
6 years ago

Well, I know this. November 2017 WYCC over-the-air Channel 20 and it’s subchannels went dark and THEY ARE GONE. No signal , gone! WPWR ch. 50 which includes MOVIES! network on 50-2 is next. The little guy loses again to the big fat cable/phone monopolies.

Mike S.
Mike S.
6 years ago
Reply to  Mike S.

Some posters on here appear to be cable TV loving snobs. To say OTA is less and less is not true. More people than ever are dropping their overpriced Cable and going to OTA digital TV. It’s time to stop the snobbery and smell the coffee!

7 years ago

There are still areas where broadband doesn’t reach and some that watch little TV and don’t want to use any cable/satellite service.

By the time the stations start shifting around, there should be a new broadcast system ATSC 3.0 in place that should handle several stations off one transmitter like today’s system, but with more room for many HD channels.

7 years ago

I see this article is a month old but I just stumbled across it looking for information on the stations vacating 600MHz. Two on the list in the New York City area have me puzzled. First WNJN is on RF channel 51 and is supposedly part of the 700MHz LTE band. T-Mobile had to negotiate with them in order to utilize that part of the LTE band here though I am not sure what that involved as WNJN is still on the air. WNBC is also puzzling as they are on RF channel 28 which, being from 554 to 560MHz,… Read more »

7 years ago

I thought it was strange that NBC would be vacating RF channel 28 since it is in the 500MHz band and not part of the auction. I wonder if they made a deal to sell it to another broadcaster who is vacating 600MHz. Over-the-air TV is definitely going to get complicated in the next few years. I miss the old analog days when I would DX the UHF band on warm summer nights receiving stations down to Virginia and up to Massachusetts from here on Long Island (not to mention the springtime E skip on VHF that would bring in… Read more »

7 years ago

Well my local NBC station in Augusta, GA disappeared from my TV this morning. WAGT-TV is now WAGT-CD and I cannot receive it this morning. Their website says “95% of the viewers should still be able to receive an over-the-air signal” but I cannot. I am a senior. I live slightly rural about 12 miles from the transmitter site (if they are still using the same site). I cannot get cable out here and cannot afford satellite or cable. I am physically incapable of erecting a large outside antenna. I get all of the other OTA network channels just fine… Read more »

7 years ago

440 Watts.. killer…shall we call ita pea shooter?

Paul Sheehan Jr.
Paul Sheehan Jr.
6 years ago

Why doesn’t WGBH move to ch. 44 and WGBX go off air and what is the future for wbts-lp in boston

John Leuthold
John Leuthold
6 years ago

I live 30 miles from Philadelphia and will be losing WYBE digital channel 35. Actually, this station transmits 4 channels, which includes: France24, NHK World, and RT America. Last year, the station stopped broadcasting a fifth channel (35.5) MHZ Network. I’m losing a lot of varied content. Also, WYBE / MIND TV aired locally created / produced videos. The station isn’t migrating to a lower channel. Instead, one will have to “stream” content from the individual “stations” websites, as well as, stream the original, locality sourced content from the newly enriched” WYBE Foundation website. Long story short, the Foundation has… Read more »

Kenny Gregory
Kenny Gregory
6 years ago

I will be glad when the American people wake up to see how the government is only interested in money and power and care less and less each day about its people’s interest and more for corporate interests and money

Mike S.
Mike S.
6 years ago
Reply to  Kenny Gregory

I totally agree. But the sheeple have their stupid I-Phones with their noses firmly implanted so they probably won’t give a sh*t anyway.

6 years ago

I’m not going to be upset over loosing favorite channels.Once upon a time,there was no TV.I’ll use all that free time to expand my farm.You can’t wear ,eat or sleep in the TV.

6 years ago

I live in the Lancaster, PA area and just lost every OTA TV station I used to receive minus one (and their one sub-channel), feel completely blindsided, and find it scandalous that absolutely nobody was talking about this FCC process while it played out over nearly 10 years. While the three local stations “going off the air” aren’t strictly dead, they jettisoned some sub-channels and relocated their broadcasts to towers in the Harrisburg area, whose signals I can’t reliably receive. The Harrisburg CBS station did work perhaps 7-8 months of the year, but they now seem to have cut their… Read more »

6 years ago

I lost KOCE just after midnight this morning and then found this website. Also, it looks as if I will be losing two more PBS stations. Soon there will be no need for having a television set. My TV is analog and I use a converter box. My income does not permit me to have anything more than ota.

Earl Fleer
6 years ago

Apparently many on this thread don’t understand the technicalities of TV. An example is the reference to a power of .44 watts output of the transmitter. TPO is the common reference to the output power of a transmitter not the ERP, the actual effective radiated power of the broadcast antenna. Most TV broadcast antennas have a much higher power (ERP) than the TPO because of their power doubling capability. Rather than complain from an ill informed perspective, try and education yourself to what is actually happening to advances in technology especially how television today and the future will impact your… Read more »

elaine sullivan
5 years ago

This is so disappointing. I can not afford cable tv and we lost 8 channels today. There were several more removed earlier. PBS and local 4,5,7,9 are left. So Sad. They want to try to
force people to get cable. I will hook up my Roku again and may have to get Amazon Prime or Net Flix down the road when I have some money. They really do not care about the poor. If they
did they would have a lower rate for those that qualify ie disabled and elderly low income. GREED.

elaine sullivan
5 years ago

This is so disappointing. I can not afford cable tv and we lost 8 channels today. There were several more removed earlier. PBS and local 4,5,7,9 are left. So Sad. They want to try to
force people to get cable. I will hook up my Roku again and may have to get Amazon Prime or Net Flix down the road when I have some money. They really do not care about the poor. If they
did they would have a lower rate for those that qualify ie disabled and elderly low income. GREED.

Richard Tanguay
5 years ago

I do not think I will be upgrading to a converter box or such for this next upgrade. Perhaps it’s time for all of us to do the same and just rely on physical copies of content as well as online services and amateur broadcasting in the near future. I do not watch that much OTA or cable TV anyhow. 🙂

Mick Allen
Mick Allen
5 years ago

My first thought was that the folks who have lost reception should rescan their converter boxes. After giving it a little thought I decided to ask a few questions. Is the loss of channels mostly in more rural areas? How much lower is the broadcast power than it was before we went digital? (I live in Washington, D.C. and we get plenty of stations, but I wonder what happens if a person lives a hundred miles from a city.) Did the old channel give advise when they shut down? (Like, “Please rescan your Converter box.”) I can tell you that… Read more »

5 years ago

Is the loss of channels mostly in more rural areas? Anecdotally that would appear to be the case. Here in the NYC metro area we have already gone through Phase 1 of the move and I have not lost any channels. In fact, I gained an odd channel 14 that used to be a low power DTV station. It now piggybacks on the WNET-DT RF channel 13 (VHF) transmitter. In Phase 2, WNET-DT is supposed to relocate to RF channel 12. How much lower is the broadcast power than it was before we went digital? (I live in Washington, D.C.… Read more »

5 years ago

I have used Converter boxes since 2009 changeover. Yes I have gone through a few as some brands have heat issues, etc. but used boxes are found at Goodwills, auctions, garage sales, all over. (just remember to get the remotes!). I have a ready stash ready for use. I like the older style TVs so buying a newfangled modern digital TV isn’t happening. BTW, I think most users are aware to scan every so often or if changes happen. In my Chicago reception area, there have been numerous channel switches and almost no disappearances lately. Now if the signals would… Read more »

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