The FCC has invited comments on a proposal that would permit earlier commencement of pre-sunrise (PSR) service by Class D and certain Class B AM stations.
Generally, Class D and Class B AM stations operating on regional channels are not allowed to operate at full daytime power prior to sunrise. Before 6 a.m., most daytimers are limited to very low power. Class D AM stations, for example, are typically limited to 100W. Recognizing the hardship this creates for many stations, particularly in winter months when sunrise occurs late (e.g., after 7 a.m.), the Commission has been approving PSR authorizations that permit pre-sunrise operations at up to 500W uniformly at 6 a.m. regardless of when local sunrise occurs.
In a petition for rule making filed in February, Richard F. Arsenault, a broadcast engineer in New Jersey, suggested the FCC permit AM stations on regional channels to commence PSR operation at 5 a.m. rather than 6 a.m. These stations, it was shown, are at a substantial competitive disadvantage during morning drive-time hours, which typically begin between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.
To remedy this situation, Arsenault proposes that the Commission permit Class D and Class B stations operating on regional channels to commence operations at 5 a.m. under PSR authority with up to 500W. He provides supporting calculations indicating his proposal could benefit as many as 2,063 Class D and Class B stations, and claims there will be no international issues raised by such an extension of PSR authority.
How much interference the proposed change might permit to domestic stations is not clear. The Arsenault petition lacks detailed engineering analysis on that point, most likely because it is assumed at least a limited amount of interference is to be expected. Thus, the Commission will have to balance whether improving the pre-sunrise coverage of the many Class B and D stations outweighs increased interference to affected stations operating on regional channels. Comments on the proposal were to be filed by April 26.
New tower safety system proposed
OCAS, Inc., a company founded by two former military pilots, has petitioned the FCC for approval of a new system that the proponent says would eliminate the need for towers to be continually lit, thus saving power and improving the environment.
The OCAS system consists of three basic components: a low-power continuous wave radar, an energy supply source to turn on and control the lighting on the structure, and a VHF radio that can transmit simultaneously on virtually all aviation-band frequencies.
The continuously operating radar device is to be attached on or near a tower to constantly monitor a series of pre-established warning zones. If an aircraft enters the first warning zone, the system automatically turns on the tower lights to provide a visual warning to the pilot. If the aircraft continues to advance toward the tower and enters the second warning zone, the VHF radio transmits an audio warning on all aviation channels alerting the flight crew to take immediate action to avoid a collision.
Deployment of the OCAS system as a substitute for current lighting requirements will require amendments to Parts 17 and 87 of the FCC's rules. The FCC has not yet set a date for comments on the proposal.
For noncommercial radio stations in Michigan and Ohio, the biennial ownership report deadline is June 1. The deadline for submission of biennial ownership reports for commercial radio stations has been suspended pending a further redesign of Form 323.
June 1 is the deadline for radio stations licensed in the following states to place their Annual EEO Reports in their public files: Arizona, DC, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Martin is a member of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, PLC, Arlington, Virginia. E-mail: