NAB Weighs in on `Franken FMs’, Channel 6 Spectrum

WASHINGTON D.C.—The NAB has filed feedback with the FCC rejecting a proposal by NPR to repurpose some unused channel 6 spectrum to be used as FM radio stations as a result of that spectrum is taking part in an necessary function in the rollout of NextGen TV/ATSC 3.0 providers. The feedback had been made in response to an FCC discover of proposed rulemaking regarding FM6, a.ok.a. Franken FMs and on a proposal from National Public Radio that urged the FCC to repurpose channel 6 spectrum not being utilized by TV stations for FM radio.The FM6 challenge has reemerged as a part of the transition to NextGen TV providers and has been extensively lined by a TV Tech sequence of articles (opens in new tab) on the topic by James O’Neal. FM6 stations function on 87.75 MHz. The FCC’s discover of proposed rulemaking (opens in new tab) on the topic is asking for feedback on whether or not it ought to permit future FM6 operations and on a wider challenge of whether or not it ought to license radio stations on the 82–88 MHz spectrum in areas the place Channel 6 LPTV and full-power stations should not working. This would open up alternatives for brand spanking new academic FM stations in underserved rural areas., NPR had argued in feedback to the FCC. In its feedback the NAB famous that “Channel 6 tv stations present essential service and…tv service should have unconstrained primacy in that spectrum. NAB additional submits that the present 13 FM6 stations in that spectrum have developed a listener base, with no experiences of interference, and subsequently ought to be allowed to proceed operation as presently licensed.”In its arguments in opposition to repurposing the spectrum, the NAB reported that at present there are “presently 98 tv stations licensed to function on channel 6 in the United States. While a few of these stations serve massive, sparsely populated areas the place the comparatively low energy consumption of channel 6 transmitters makes the supply of tv service economical to rural (*6*), others serve densely populated city areas the place no different channels exist in extra fascinating spectrum (i.e., VHF-High Band and UHF TV channels). Quite a lot of channel 6 stations additionally function `lighthouse’ stations for NextGen TV, offering a essential transition path for tv broadcasters as they migrate to ATSC 3.0.”“Authorization of latest FM stations in an FM expanded band created from tv spectrum may additionally preclude new tv stations,” the NAB mentioned. “[T]listed below are already some channel 6 tv stations serving as ATSC 3.0 lighthouse services, and extra such services could also be wanted because the rollout of NextGen TV progresses. The reverse want might exist close to the top of the ATSC 3.0 transition. That is, DTV `nightlight’ services on channel 6 could also be wanted to assist make sure that legacy viewers nonetheless obtain a sign. As tv broadcasters voluntarily transition to ATSC 3.0 with no extra spectrum allotted by the Commission, it will be important that present tv spectrum be preserved to assist make this tough transition as environment friendly as doable. Further, because the Commission has noticed, client FM receivers can not tune beneath 87.7 or 87.9 MHz and can’t be upgraded to take action, creating an enormous legacy receiver base that can’t tune to most expanded FM band channels and discouraging FM broadcasters to suggest operation in an expanded FM band. The enlargement of the AM band 25 years in the past might function a cautionary story, with most of the expanded band channels initially allotted nonetheless fallow. NAB thus urges the Commission to reject NPR’s proposal to repurpose tv channel 6 spectrum for FM providers.”While the NAB argued that the 13 present FM6 stations be allowed to proceed to function as presently licensed as ancillary or supplemental providers, it additionally mentioned they shouldn’t be allowed to arbitrarily modify their operations. “It appears sure, nevertheless, that these 13 FM6 stations may impression FM stations working in the reserved band (88–92 MHz), different channel 6 tv stations, or their very own TV6 video providers, if they’re allowed to arbitrarily modify their operations, for instance, by rising energy, relocating, or including Subsidiary Communications Services or In-Band On-Channel digital audio broadcasting providers to their indicators,” the NAB added. “There are presently no regulatory necessities that immediately tackle FM6-to-reserved band FM (or different) interference and NAB submits it’s essential to keep away from rising the danger of interference with no technical document to justify expanded makes use of. NAB subsequently urges the Commission to limit FM6 operations to the 13 FM6″ stations at present working. However, the NAB additionally harassed that FM6 stations should not degrade the ATSC 3.0 service and should adjust to EAS necessities.“NAB helps the proposed necessities that the channel 6 tv (TV6) operation transmit rule-compliant ATSC-3 video and related audio always the related FM6 is in operation and that that the FM6 protection space and populations might not exceed that of the TV6 operation,” the NAB mentioned.To keep away from interference, NAB believes that “the requirement to transmit FM6 at 87.75 MHz is pointless and is linked to the now-obsolete NTSC tv transmission system. Instead, NAB proposes requiring the 13 FM6 stations to function on 87.7 MHz in order to provide licensees the chance to enhance analog FM6 reception whereas sustaining ATSC-3.0 compatibility. This small 50 kHz shift in frequency away from the FM band would presumably cut back the potential for interference to FM stations working in the reserved band whereas enhancing compatibility and constancy for FM receivers that may tune solely in 200 kHz steps. Indeed, NAB notes that many or most FM6 operations apparently function at 87.7 MHz and that the technical evaluation carried out in help of FM6 operation in conjunction with ATSC 3.0 concerned testing at 87.7 MHz.”The NAB additionally argued that no change in the space separation guidelines had been justified presently.

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