Assignment of TV channels

Just who assigned them. The system makes no sense. Here in Chicago we have 2,5,7,9,11, We used to have channel 4 till Milwaukee copted it. Why don’t we have channel 13. It seems that since VHF channels have to be 2 apart (except ch 4 & 5 and ch 6 & 7 Which may be together without causing interference to each other) it makes sense to give the big cities the most VHF stations. And since UHF stations have to be 6 apart (in Chicago it is 20, 26, 32, 38, 44, 50, 56, 62) Why is it we also have ch 60 and 66. Why is it some UHF can be two apart and 4 apart (note ch. 62 & 66). Also when the new HDTV takes effect in 2008 doesn’t that mean that all old TV channels won’t work and have to be reassigned anyway. Will we all need new TV’s as well?

OK, take a deep breath and try to relax!

Who assigned them? The FCC. The VHF stations were assigned back in the 40s and 50s, with some slight adjustments since then. The UHF stations were first assigned in the 50s, but there’s been a lot of adjustments since then, particularly in big cities.

You’re right that VHF stations have to be two apart in the same city (however, see below), but they also can’t be right next to each other in adjoining cities. I don’t have a chart handy, but is it possible Channel 13 is licensed to Rockford or some other city near Chicago?

I’m not sure that the UHF stations have to be any set number apart, but the FCC has made many more UHF assignments, so they have to be spread around. I recall that in addition to Chicago, Joliet and Elgin have UHF channels assigned to them, whether or not any stations actually broadcast from those areas.

And BTW, although you didn’t ask, Channel 1 was transferred to other uses in the early days of television and they didn’t bother to renumber the other channels. Channels 6 and 7 are not actually next to each other on the spectrum (they’re separated by FM and aircraft bands, I think), which is why they can be in the same city. The assigned frequencies for Channels 4 and 5 have been adjusted a little so those two channels won’t interfere with each other. UHF Channels 70-83 have also been reassigned, although any station which was already operating can stay where it is.

You are correct Ch 13 is in Rockford but why doesn’t it make more sense to give ALL the VHF frequencies to the BIG cities. And Why relocate Ch 4 to Milwaukee from Chicago. Yes Aurora, Gary and Joliet have UHF stations but most of them broadcast out of Chicago.

Also when we go digital won’t all the channels have to be reassigned. As I understand by 2008 no TV in use now will work anyway.

You forgot channel 3 (FOX).
The broadcast networks are being forced by the FCC to provide HDTV broadcasting on their existing frequencies. The “old” channels will stay the same, and you will not need a new TV for a very long time.

I’ve vowed not to purchase a new TV or computer until I can combine the two into one purchase. (Yehright).

Channel 3? In Chicago? Maybe on your cable provider, but here in the Land Without Cable, Fox comes in on channel 32 on the UHF band.


“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

No there was a ch 4 in Chicago. Milwaukee stole it. When HDTV comes in our current TV’s won’t work. But won’t this mean channels will need to be reassigned?

The channels have been reassigned. Every VHF station has been given a UHF channel to broadcast in HDTV. Every UHF station has been given another UHF channel for HDTV use.
During the transition stations will simulcast their programs. Eventually the VHF band will go to other uses. Or so the FCC said.

Not quite. I was just reading in Broadcasting & Cable magazine that some VHF stations have been given VHF digital assignments. Like WISH-TV Indianapolis was assigned to VHF 9. I know Channel 32 WFLD (Fox) is the only channel in Chicago to comply with FCC and broadcast in digital. All stations in top 10 markets should be by now and markets 11-40 are supposed to be digital by Nov '99.

In case anyone care to find out what new channels there favorite stations will be on once HDTV takes over here is a link. As you can see VHF is doomed for the most part.

USA Digital TV Allotments
Address: http://www.metronet.com/~chipk/usatv/DTV.html