The channel is the range of frequencies allocated to that broadcast > station. NTSC (analog TV) and ATSC (digital TV) still use the same > channels. Most of the new DTV channels are UHF, and the broadcasters > are allowed to continue to use the older analog channels (the best > ones being VHF) during the transition. Once the FCC tells them to shut > off the analog broadcasts, the original channels will be put up for > auction.
Not entirely correct ...1) Digital television has "virtual channels". Stations which have an existing brand identity based on their analog channel in most cases have chosen to PSIP with that channel rather than their new digital channel (even when the analog channel is going away permanently). 2) Stations have the opportunity to choose which of their two channels they will use for their "permanent" DTV operation. The cost advantages to being in VHF-high are so significant that almost every station which has had the opportunity so far to make that choice has chosen the VHF channel. Most stations on VHF-low have chosen to leave the band (particularly if the channel in question is the very undesirable channel 6). Stations with analog channels 52 and higher do not get a choice, unless their DTV channel is also above 51, in which case they get their pick of technically feasible channels after the stations that had a choice have chosen. 3) It's not clear to me whether the FCC will seriously auction channels below 52 for new services, or simply open them up to the usual competitive process for new TV applications, or do both and have TV and other services competing in the same auction.