fmdj1 mentioned in another thread the idea of expanding the FM band into channels 5 & 6. I've heard that mentioned over the years (mostly with regard to putting LPFM down there) but I've never heard of it being considered seriously. In today's world it's in my opinion even less likely than 10 years ago and it had little chance of succeeding even then. I can pretty much guarantee the TV broadcasters are going to fight hard against any such proposal. They're already pretty mad about the FCC taking more and more TV spectrum for cell phone use. In the last 10 years we've already lost almost half of the TV spectrum. The traditional guard bands between full power stations that we've had since the 1940's are gone and there's still not enough room for everybody resulting in stations being forced to move from the UHF band to the much less desirable VHF band. Then you have the big station groups and the NAB who definitely don't want the competition that an expanded FM band would bring. And if you managed to get past all of that, you still have the technical problem of virtually zero radios that can tune below about 87.5. (The exceptions I know of are radios that are built for both the US and Japan and have a switch to cover the Japanese FM band which has always gone lower. I don't think I've ever even seen one of those.)
I could be wrong but I think this is a non starter, but I'd love to hear how it could work.
Glad this got a post. I'm not fully up on it, though I know there is a consortium pushing for it. I think the justification is basically if TV is all digital and pretty much off the band, why not give it to AM to move to where they'll get higher fidelity and less noise. I'm certain you're right, TV broadcasters won't like it and if the current repacking issues have taught them anything, it is that it never goes as promised. But shy of the FCC actually making the effort to clean up the AM band, which would be an enormous task, I think it is higher in viability than continuing to add translators or possibly even than an all-digital solution.
I'm not sure who's saying TV is pretty much off the band but they haven't looked at the numbers recently. As of March 31 there are 1633 full service UHF TV stations and 515 on VHF. For LPTV and translators there are 4195 on UHF and 1360 on VHF. ( docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-356801A1.pdf ) For those keeping score at home, that comes out to about 25% for each category, and I don't know if that even counts stations that are going to move as the repack continues.
I think the perception is that, because a majority of the large stations are off the band, it is a whole lot emptier. Of course, the perception is the repack will have a major impact on the remaining stations on the band. No doubt it will be a long process, but the momentum is still towards clearing out the band as far as I can tell. I'm not trying to say that is right or wrong, just my perception of what seems to be happening as, admittedly, a TV outsider