‘Franken FM’ 5th NPRM

The LPTV digital transition is now complete, with analog television operations terminated and channel 6 LPTV stations operating in digital. However the Commission has granted STAs to 13 channel 6 LPTV stations to continue providing analog “FM6” service. In this proceeding, the FCC seeks comment on whether allowing continued “FM6” analog radio operations by existing digital channel 6 LPTV stations serves the public interest. In addition, the Commission seeks comment on whether to eliminate or revise the television channel 6 (TV6) distance separation rules for low power FM (LPFM), noncommercial educational (NCE) FM, Class D (10 watt) FM, and FM translator stations operating on reserved band FM Channels 201-220. Through this NPRM, the FCC seeks to bring finality to these outstanding questions.

Comment Date: July 18, 2022 (30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)
Reply Comment Date: August 1, 2022 (45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)

FCC Affirms No Reserved Channels for White Spaces & Wireless Mics

In this order, the FCC denied the Petitions for Reconsideration filed by Sennheiser Electronic Corporation and Shure Incorporated requesting reconsideration and reversal of a Commission Report and Order that
declined to adopt rules proposed in a 2015 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to preserve a vacant channel in the television bands for use by white space devices and wireless microphones and
terminated the proceeding.

More LMS Online Filing

As part of its ongoing effort to update the Commission’s application filing systems, the Media Bureau is pleased to announce the transition of additional filings to the LMS online electronic system.

Commencing May 17, 2022, the public will be required to submit the following filings using LMS:

  • FM Engineering Special Temporary Authorizations (STAs)
  • Request for Silent STA
  • Extension of STA – Silent
  • Extension of STA – Engineering
  • Suspension of Operations Notification
  • Resumption of Operations
  • AM/FM Digital Notification
  • Modulation Dependent Carrier Level (MDCL) Notification
  • Change of Primary Station Notification
  • Tolling Notification
  • Reduced Power Notification
  • Withdraw Pending Applications

Further new features include the ability to search by frequency or channel using the “Frequency/Channel” option in Public Search, and the addition of existing STA and silent notification records to LMS from the Consolidated Database System (CDBS).

See Public Notice below for additional details and instructions.

FCC Opens Inquiry on Receiver Performance

The FCC is seeking to develop an up-to-date record on the role of receivers in spectrum management and how they might best promote improvements in receiver interference immunity performance that would serve the public interest. They seek to build upon the progress, including technological advances, in recent years that has enabled better receiver interference immunity performance, and they seek comment on where those efforts and advances have been most successful.

FCC Seeks Further Comment on FM Booster Program Origination

On December 1, 2020, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this proceeding, seeking comment on whether to modify the Commission’s rules governing the operation of FM booster stations in certain limited circumstances to allow for geo-targeted content. In light of recent developments and to provide a complete record on developments since the completion of the commenting cycle in this matter, the Media Bureau seeks public comment on these test reports as well as other documents filed in this proceeding since the previous comment period closed March 12, 2021.

Comments must be filed on or before June 6, 2022 and reply comments on or before June 21, 2022.

Status Update on Incentive Auction Reimbursement Program – Final Allocations, Site Visits, and Filing Deadline Reminder

The Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau announced a final allocation from the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund to increase the allocation for each participant from 92.5% to 100% of verified estimates. This will aid the Commission’s efforts to fully reimburse participants and close reimbursement accounts. They also announced the initiation of a program to visit the facilities of a statistically valid and random sample of Fund participants to validate the existence and operational status of post-transition broadcast equipment for which the entity received reimbursement. The site visit program supports the Commission’s responsibility as a prudent steward of taxpayer money to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse associated with the disbursement of federal funds. Finally, they remind all full power and Class A TV stations assigned transition completion dates in Phases 6-10 that they must submit all remaining invoices no later than March 22, 2022.

For details see the Public Notice below.

FCC Updates Broadcast Radio Technical Rules

In this Report and Order, the Commission updated it’s rules by eliminating or amending outdated or unnecessary broadcast radio regulations contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The revisions adopted herein better reflect current developments in the radio industry and ensure that the technical rules are accurate, up-to-date, and consistent.

Specifically, in the NPRM, we proposed the following rule changes:

(1) eliminating the maximum rated transmitter power limit rule for AM stations set out in
section 73.1665(b);

(2) updating the noncommercial educational (NCE) FM community of license coverage requirement set out in sections 73.316(c)(2)(ix)(B) and 73.1690(c)(8)(i) to match that used in section 73.515;

(3) eliminating the requirement that applicants demonstrate the effect of their FM
transmitting antenna on nearby FM or TV broadcast antennas, set out in section 73.316(d);

(4) updating the signal strength contour overlap requirements for NCE FM Class D stations set out in section 73.509(b) to harmonize with the contour overlap requirements for all other NCE FM stations, set out in section 73.509(a);

(5) eliminating the requirement for broadcast services to protect grandfathered common carrier services in Alaska operating in the 76-100 MHz frequency band;

(6) amending the definition of an “AM fill-in area” set out in section 74.1201(j); and

(7) amending allocation and power limitations for broadcast stations within 320 kilometers of the Mexican and Canadian borders, set out in sections 73.207(b) and 74.1235(d), to eliminate conflicting provisions and comply with current treaty requirements.

See the Report & Order for details and discussion.

Changes in Clean Water Act tower permits

Wireless Telecommunications Bureau of the FCC notifies tower builders about the recent change in the definition of the “waters of the United States” provision of the Clean Water Act (CWA). This change in the definition could affect tower builders with facilities requiring CWA permits, including facilities whose construction will involve significant change in surface features triggering the environmental assessment (EA) provisions under the FCC’s environmental rules.

FCC CDBS Filings to sunset Jan 12, 2022

The Media Bureau announced that it will no longer accept filings in the Consolidated Database System (CDBS) effective at 5 p.m. EST on Wednesday, January 12, 2022. This action is necessary due to pressing technical issues that prevent the effective use of CDBS going forward and is intended to facilitate the ongoing transition of all filings to the Licensing and Management System (LMS) database.

Anyone seeking to submit new filings using CDBS or amendments to existing applications that were previously filed using CDBS must follow the procedures outlined in the Public Notice below. The public will continue to have access to CDBS for public searches and CDBS data files. Although the Media Bureau encourages the public to use electronic filing options, any filings that currently may be submitted in a paper format will continue to be accepted in that manner using existing procedures for paper filings. The Media Bureau anticipates this will be a permanent sunset of the use of CDBS for Media Bureau filings, as all Media Bureau filings continue to transition to LMS.

Wireless Tower Construction Guidance

The FCC’s Wireless Bureau issued two Public Notices providing additional guidance for applicants proposing to build facilities in areas possibly inhabited by the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) and the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus). See the Public Notices below.