Washington - Apr 1, 2009 - In a public notice, the FCC provided guidance to noncommercial educational (NCE) FM stations operating under TV channel 6 protection requirements. These requirements now apply to and will continue to apply to all NCE FM reserved-band applications until such time as the Commission expressly states otherwise, regardless of the date on which a potentially affected TV channel 6 station terminates analog broadcast service.
An application for a new or modified NCE station in the FM reserved band must protect a nearby TV channel 6 broadcast station in accordance with Section 73.525 of the Commission's Rules. The NCE applicant must submit either a showing regarding predicted interference or a copy of an agreement between such applicant and the affected channel 6 station "concurring with the proposed NCE-FM facilities." Several NCE FM station applicants, in anticipation of the former Feb. 17, 2009, deadline for the DTV transition, have attempted to satisfy Section 73.525 of the Rules by including agreements contingent on the vacation of channel 6 allotments and the initiation of digital-only television operations. Other applicants have requested Section 73.525 waivers based on the anticipated DTV deadline. The FCC has also received numerous inquiries from the public asking whether such proposals are acceptable. Accordingly, by the Public Notice, the Bureau clarifies its processing policy with regard to NCE FM applications subject to Section 73.525.
The FCC will dismiss any NCE FM station application that fails to satisfy Section 73.525 protection requirements, or include an unconditional consent letter from the affected TV channel 6 station concurring with the proposed NCE FM facilities. An NCE FM station application must take into account all stations licensed to operate on channel 6 as of Sept. 7, 2008. Any tentatively selected NCE FM application that relies upon the anticipated termination of analog channel 6 broadcast service to demonstrate compliance with the Rule, or to request a waiver of the Rule, will be dismissed. Amendments and petitions for reconsideration based upon the subsequent termination of analog channel 6 operations will not be entertained.
The FCC is currently considering groups of mutually exclusive applications filed during the October 2007 NCE FM filing window and tentatively selecting applications for grant pursuant to threshold fair distribution analyses and point system determinations. Only tentative selectee applications that are in compliance with the protection requirements of Section 73.525 of the Rules or include a rule-compliant unqualified consent from the potentially affected TV channel 6 station are eligible for grant. Any application that does not satisfy one of these requirements and that the staff subsequently identifies as a tentative selectee will be dismissed.
The FCC notes that completion of the DTV transition will create opportunities for NCE FM stations to improve their facilities. The FCC will issue a public notice announcing that it will accept applications in those situations.