The Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) extended the reply comment deadline on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Use of the 5.850-5.925 GHz Band, released on December 17, 2019 (NPRM). The NPRM was published in the Federal Register on February 6, 2020, establishing the comment due date of March 9, 2020, and reply comment due date of April 6, 2020.2 On March 20, 2020, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) each sought a 90-day extension of the reply comment filing date. AASHTO and ITS America each ask for the extension to review and reply to the extensive record generated by the comments in the midst of the disruptions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is the general policy of the Commission that extensions of time shall not be routinely granted. Under the circumstances presented, the FCC concludes that a limited 21-day extension of the reply comment deadline is warranted in order to develop the record to the fullest extent possible in this proceeding. Interested parties can use this time to develop complete, fully supported reply comments. Accordingly, pursuant to Section 4(i) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended,5 and Section 1.46 of the Commission’s rules, the extended deadline for filing reply comments is April 27, 2020.
The Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau (Bureau) announce an initial allocation from the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund for low power television (LPTV) and TV translator (together LPTV/Translator) stations. This allocation enables the FCC to commence reimbursement of approved invoices submitted by eligible LPTV/Translator stations. See Public Notice for full details.
The FCC announced schedule changes for Auction 105 as well as the postponement of Auction 106. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, these changes were deemed necessary in order to protect the health and safety of Commission staff and to allow parties additional time to prepare to participate in Auctions 105 and 106. “Many Americans have had to make tough decisions on how they do business in this rapidly changing environment, and the FCC is no different,” said Chairman Ajit Pai. “After consulting agency staff within the relevant Bureaus and Offices, we determined that it was in everyone’s best interest to make these changes. But we remain committed to holding the 3.5 GHz auction this summer and look forward to beginning this important mid-band auction in July.” For Auction 105, involving the auction of Priority Access Licenses for the 3550-3650 MHz band, the short-form application (FCC Form 175) filing window will now open on April 23, 2020 at 12 p.m. EDT and will close on May 7 at 6 p.m. EDT. Upfront payments will be due June 19. Bidding will begin on July 23. Interested parties should continue to monitor the Auction 105 website at www.fcc.gov/auction/105 for any future announcements regarding the auction schedule and other important auction information. To read the Auction 105 Public Notice, visit https://go.usa.gov/xdhf4. The FCC is postponing indefinitely Auction 106, an auction of construction permits in the FM broadcast service that was scheduled to begin on April 28. Auction 106 applicants that submitted upfront payments may obtain a refund of those deposits after submitting a written request. See the Public Notice for full details. A revised schedule will be announced in a future public notice.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Due to concerns over COVID-19, Audio Division staff will begin teleworking commencing March 13, 2020, and continuing until further notice. During this time, the public should follow these guidelines concerning Audio Division matters:
College and University Radio Stations
A number of colleges and universities have announced closures related to COVID-19. Noncommercial educational stations that are not able to broadcast during these school closures will not be required to adhere to the minimum operating schedule in section 73.561 of the Commission’s rules. The Audio Division will classify these school closures as a recess period consistent with section 73.561(a). If stations do not resume broadcasts within thirty days due to COVID-19 related closures, they will not be required to notify the Commission pursuant to section 73.561(d) or to seek special temporary authority.
Because Audio Division staff will not be working at FCC headquarters, the Audio Division will not be able to accept for filing any items that are not submitted electronically. The public is strongly encouraged to use the Audio Division’s CDBS and LMS databases for all applications and pleadings that can be filed electronically. The following requests that cannot be filed using those databases, should be submitted by email as follows:
Tolling Requests should be submitted by email to Victoria McCauley
(email@example.com) and Tom Hutton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Applications for AM Broadcast License (Form 302) – a scanned copy of the completed form should be emailed to Jim Bradshaw (email@example.com) and Nazifa Sawez (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Extension of time requests concerning pending applications or docketed proceedings should be submitted by email to all of the following: Albert Shuldiner (email@example.com), Christopher Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org), Tom Hutton (email@example.com) and Lisa
Requests for Special Temporary Authority should be filed using the CDBS database. Any requests that cannot be filed in CDBS should be submitted by email to all of the following:
Jim Bradshaw (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dale Bickel (email@example.com) and Jerry Manarchuck (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Experimental license requests should be submitted by email to Jim Bradshaw (email@example.com) and Rudy Bonacci (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Audio Division Letter Decisions
It has been the Audio Division’s practice to send signed copies of letter decisions in adjudicatory matters by U.S. mail in addition to updating the CDBS or LMS databases. Because Audio Division staff will not be working at FCC Headquarters, adjudicatory decisions and other items that are not released through the Daily Digest will be sent to applicants, petitioners and other parties by email. Parties are encouraged to ensure they have an updated email address on file with the Commission.
The FCC is seeking comment on changes to the Commission’s rules governing the use of a distributed transmission system (DTS), or single frequency network (SFN), by a broadcast television station. They seek comment on the following:
• Amending the Commission’s rules to permit, within certain limits, DTS signals to spill over beyond a station’s authorized service area by more than the “minimal amount” currently allowed by section 73.626.
• How DTS signals extending beyond their current service areas should be treated for interference purposes if such spillover is allowed.
• Potential impacts to other spectrum users, such as TV translators and LPTV stations,including whether there are alternatives to the proposed rule changes that could accomplish the intended objectives.
• Whether to modify the DTS rules as they relate to Class A and LPTV licensees.
• Whether and to what extent the proposed changes are also appropriate for stations broadcasting in ATSC 1.0.
See NPRM below for further details.
The FCC proposed targeted changes to its White Space device rules to pave the way for improved broadband coverage for rural Americans. White Space devices operate in portions of the broadcast television bands that are not used by television stations and can be used to provide broadband and other wireless services. See NPRM and News Release for full details.