FAQ for Television Viewers

15 June 2022

What is going to happen to my local Channel 5 or Channel 6 TV station?

It depends on the type of television station it is.  There are two types of TV stations, full-service and low power.  Full-service stations are those with high power and have operated in their communities for many years now.  Low power TV stations are smaller stations and will sometimes provide various niche interest channels (such as home shopping, reruns, etc.) and some may rebroadcast a full-service TV station into a smaller community.  

Under REC's plan, the full-service TV stations will not be impacted.  The new FM stations will be required to choose their dial position and location in a way that fully protects the full-service TV stations.  

The protected full-service stations that operate on the broadcast spectrum for Channel 5 are located in:

  • San Francisco Bay Area, CA (KRCB, displays Ch. 22 on the TV)
  • San Bernardino, CA (KVCR, displays Ch. 24 on the TV)
  • Dover, DE (WMDE, displays Ch. 36 on the TV)
  • Columbus, GA (WJSP, displays Ch. 28 on the TV)
  • Ames, IA (WOI-TV, displays Ch. 5 on the TV)
  • Boston, MA (WGBH, displays Ch. 2 on the TV & WFXZ)
  • Calumet, MI (WBKP, displays Ch. 5 on the TV)
  • Kalamazoo, MI (WGVK, displays Ch. 52 on the TV)
  • Glendive, MT (KXGN, displays Ch. 5 on the TV)
  • Hastings, NE (KNHL, displays Ch. 5 on the TV)
  • Jamestown, NY (WNYB, displays Ch. 26 on the TV)
  • Medford, OR (KOBI, displays Ch. 5 on the TV)
  • Lead, SD (KHSD-TV, displays Ch. 11 on the TV)
  • Cleveland, TN (WTNB-CD, may display Ch. 5 on the TV)

The protected full-service stations that operate on the broadcast spectrum for Channel 6 are located in:

  • Tuscaloosa, AL (WVUA, displays Ch. 23 on the TV)
  • Pelham, GA (WABW, displays Ch. 14 on the TV)
  • Wrens, GA (WCES, displays Ch. 20 on the TV)
  • Ensign, KS (KBSD, displays Ch. 6 on the TV)
  • Hayes Center, NE (KWNB, displays Ch. 6 on the TV)
  • Cambridge, OH (WOUC, displays Ch. 44 on the TV)
  • Altoona, PA (WKBS, displays Ch. 47 on the TV)
  • Philadelphia, PA (WPVI, displays Ch. 6 on the TV)

All of those stations are going to be protected by this plan and will not go away.  There are additional Channel 5 TV stations in Butte, MT, Toledo, OH, Memphis, TN, Fredericksburg, TX, Bristol, VA, Fond Du Lac, WI and Weston, VA as well as an additional Channel 6 TV station in Butte, MT that are either making plans or have already made their move off of Channels 5 or 6 to other places in the broadcast spectrum.  This is a trend by full-service TV stations to change to higher TV channels to address reception issues that exist on these lower channels since the conversion to digital television.  

It is also important to remember that there are many TV stations that at one time, did operate on Channel 5 or 6.  These stations may still state over the air that they are Channel 5 or 6 and show on the TV with Channel 5 or 6 (such as Channel 5.1).  These stations do not operate in the broadcast spectrum used for Channel 5 or 6.  With digital television, each station as a "radio frequency (RF) channel" and a "virtual channel".  The RF channel is where the station is physically located and the virtual channel is the channel you see on the TV.  Only TV stations that use RF Channel 5 or 6 are those that need to be addressed in this plan. The stations listed above operate on RF Channels 5 or 6 and as mentioned, will not be impacted.  Most low power TV stations on RF Channel 6 and a small number of low-power TV stations on RF Channel 5, which are not on the list above, may be displaced as a result of this plan.

Low-power TV stations are licensed as secondary stations, meaning that if the spectrum that they occupy is needed by a primary broadcast service, the primary service would have priority.  Full-service FM broadcasting is considered a primary service and one primary FM station operating on 76.1~81.9 could displace a low-power TV station on channel 5 and likewise, one primary station operating on 82.1~87.9 could displace a low-power TV station on channel 6.  Since most full-service FM operation is expected to take place on 83.1~86.9, this will mean that most secondary low power TV stations operating on RF Channel 6 would be displaced and would have to find a different channel to move to.  In a small number of areas where 77.1~80.9 must be used for full-service FM broadcasting (because of a protected full-service Channel 6 TV station in the area), then a small number of low-power Channel 5 TV stations would be displaced as a part of the plan. 

It is important to remember in the space where one TV station can go into a particular area, there can be 30 channels dedicated to FM broadcasting, which can yield about 10 new local full-service and low power community FM radio stations.  

A full list of TV stations and their potential impacts can be found at the REC Networks website for RF Channel 5 and RF Channel 6.

I watch a TV station from Canada on Channel 5 or 6, what will happen to that station?

Under the REC plan, all TV stations, full-power and low-power, that are located in Canada are treated as primary and will remain protected.  It will be up to the Canadian Government to decide whether to provide an FM broadcast service in the 76~88 area.  But, these TV stations will be fully protected from the USA.

Will I need to re-scan my TV set?

Whenever a TV station makes a change such as going to a different RF channel or decides to add or remove "multi-cast" services, a re-scan of the consumer's TV receiver is required to continue receiving the TV station and all of its services.  TV stations may notify their viewers through on-air announcements, messages on their website or through social media whenever a re-scan is needed.  For full-service TV stations that will remain protected or low-power TV stations not expected to be displaced, no re-scan will be necessary solely as a result of this plan.  Low power TV stations subject to displacement may be require a re-scan if they change to a different RF channel at a later time.