FCC Votes to Preserve Some FM6 or “Franken FM” Services

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As anticipated, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to allow a restricted variety of low energy tv (LPTV) stations working on TV channel 6 (TV6) to keep their current analog FM radio providers (FM6 operations). The operations are solely permitted on an ancillary or supplementary foundation topic to particular operational guidelines and necessities.The FM6 or so-called “Franken FM” stations have emerged as an attention-grabbing subject within the transition to NextGen TV/ATSC 3.0 broadcasts, with the NAB and others backing the concept that a few of these FM6 stations must be allowed to proceed operations.In July of 2022, the NAB 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 enjoying an useful function within the rollout of NextGen TV/ATSC 3.0 providers and since it allowed these stations to ship addition providers to communities. Following the July 20 vote, the NAB issued a press release applauding the motion. In the July 20 vote on the FCC’s August open assembly, the Commission voted on a Report and Order relating to the problem. In the Order, the FCC famous that because the Nineteen Eighties, some TV6 LPTV stations have supplied listeners native radio programming that could possibly be picked up on the backside of the FM dial, particularly on 87.7 MHz and 87.75 MHz. Because the TV6 band is straight adjoining to the FM band, it’s accessible utilizing commonplace FM receivers. Listeners have tuned to current FM6 LPTV stations for international language, spiritual and sports activities programming, and emergency and public info, as well as to programming to assist underserved populations together with native Spanish audio system and immigrants, the FCC reported. . The FCC additionally defined that following the July 2021 LPTV digital transition, newly digital LPTV stations working on TV6 and offering this audio service have been not ready to attain their analog radio viewers by means of their digital TV transmission.After analyzing the problem, the Report and Order discovered that it’s within the public curiosity to allow a restricted group of 14 TV6 LPTV stations to proceed to present analog audio service if they are often operated on a non-interference foundation.  Preserving the long-time audio programming supplied by these remaining stations aligns with the Commission’s core rules guiding the digital transition—minimizing service disruptions, the FCC stated. The Order additionally adopts technical guidelines and necessities governing how FM6 LPTV stations can be permitted to proceed to function so as to stop interference to their very own digital TV operations and adjoining channel FM radio stations, protect their free over-the-air TV service, and guarantee their FM6 operations proceed to serve the general public curiosity. However, the FCC’s Order declined to repurpose TV6 spectrum (82-88 MHz) for FM providers in areas the place it’s not presently getting used for tv service. It additionally declined to amend present TV6 interference guidelines presently.In response to the Federal Communications Commission’s approval of an order permitting current channel 6 low energy tv stations to proceed to present analog FM radio service, NAB president and CEO Curtis LeGeyt stated: “NAB thanks the FCC and the Media Bureau employees for its truthful and environment friendly decision of using the TV channel 6 frequency band by low energy TV stations to present ancillary audio programming. The order adopted by the Commission as we speak will shield channel 6 tv operators whereas recognizing the viewers constructed by current FM6 stations. We assist the FCC’s balanced strategy that addresses long-standing questions surrounding this advanced subject.”In the vote on the Report and Order (FCC 23-58),  Chairwoman Rosenworcel, Commissioners Carr, Starks, and Simington voted to approve it. Extensive protection of the problem might be discovered at our sister publication Radio World and at TV Tech in a collection of articles on the topic by James O’Neal.  


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