The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus (COVID-19). On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization classified COVID-19 as a pandemic, and on March 13, 2020, the President declared a national emergency as a result of the virus. The FCC has been working closely with television stations engaged in completing their transition to their post-auction channel during the recently-completed phase 8, and those who are working to do so in phases 9 and 10, to monitor the effect of the public health precautions being taken to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus on the stations’ ability to complete their transition by their assigned phase deadline. Stations assigned to phase 8 successfully met their transition deadline on March 13, 2020. We granted construction permit extensions to certain stations assigned to phase 8 in light of delivery delays of equipment being manufactured outside the United States. The FCC has now become aware that at least one tower company has imposed a two-week suspension of field service, including work on repack-related construction, while it evaluates the evolving situation. The FCC anticipates that there may be additional suspensions of service and other developments in this unfolding situation that may impact the transition.
Phase 9 of the transition began on March 14, 2020, and is scheduled to end on May 1, 2020. The FCC recognizes that the construction and delivery delays that are occurring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as efforts undertaken by the stations themselves to protect the health of their employees and their families, result from circumstances outside of a station’s control. As a result of these circumstances, any station scheduled to complete its transition in phase 9 that believes it may be unable to meet the May 1, 2020, deadline will be granted a waiver of the phase 9 deadline and reassignment to phase 10, which begins on May 2, 2020, and ends on July 3, 2020. Such a waiver request should state that the station’s transition is delayed due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic and be filed as a legal request for special temporary authority in the Licensing Management System and with a copy via email to Evan.Morris@fcc.gov and email@example.com. The FCC notes that many stations in phase 9 may already be far enough along in their transition process that their efforts will not be disrupted by any construction and supply chain delays occasioned by COVID-19. These stations may wish to transition according to their original schedule during Phase 9 and will still be able to do so if they do not have direct downstream linkages to stations moving from phase 9 to phase 10.
See Public Notice for additional details.