Doug Lung /
12.22.2009 04:30 PM
New VHF TV Allotments for Delaware and N.J.
In 1982, before anyone was considering DTV channel allotments, Congress modified the Communications Act of 1934 to add a section (331(a)) stating that the FCC must allocate commercial VHF channels in such a manner so that would be not less than one VHF channel per state, "if technically feasible."

Even though VHF TV channels, especially low-band VHF channels have been found to be less desirable than UHF channels in most situations--witness the number of stations filing applications to move from VHF to UHF--the FCC is still required to make sure every state has at least one commercial VHF channel. Last week the FCC initiated rulemakings to make sure that the two states considered deficient in VHF channels--New Jersey and Delaware--had commercial VHF allotments.

UHF or VHF DTV channels are scarce in the northeast, so it isn't surprising that the two proposed allotments are in the least desirable low-band VHF spectrum. The FCC has proposed allocating Channel 4 to Atlantic City, N.J. [PDF] and assigning Channel 5 to Seaford, Del. [PDF].

The FCC noted that the station assigned to analog Channel 9, in Secaucus, N.J., is now operating only on its DTV frequency, Channel 38. The remaining VHF channel allocated to Newark, N.J.'s WNET (Channel 13) has been operated as part of the New York State education network since 1961 and the Court of Appeals has ruled that this allotment does not qualify as a VHF channel allotment for the purpose of Section 331(a). And as Channel 12, which is allocated to Wilmington, Del., is reserved for non-commercial educational use, it too does not qualify under Section 331(a).

Both of these allotments are proposals only, and the FCC is soliciting comments on the proposed allotments linked to above. It is possible these may not be the final allocations. The FCC has stated that the filing of a counterproposal may lead to change allotments to a different channel for "any of the communities involved."

It is ironic to me that TV spectrum once considered a prime location for analog TV is now being avoided for DTV.

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Posted by: Brian Smith
Wed, 12-23-2009 12:08 PM Report Comment
Doug - The DTV problem is due to needed power density in Watts per square meter into the service area and the issue that low band (and even high band) can't deliver that needed power density to the service area. The issue with low band is due to excessive propagation distance if one where able to use the needed higher power level to increase the power density. The other fact that still is not realized is that Digital TV is less robust than analog especially under weak signal conditions with interference. This is especially true if the interference is impulse or electrically related noise. Most all people know that low band VHF has this problem even in grade A and grade B signal areas and is exacerbated especially under indoor antenna use. Under these types of poor signal conditions the digital signal becomes completely non receivable whereas analog is still fully watchable though degraded. To get around the issue one would need to move at least to high band VHF but even High band VHF has issues that are again due to low power density. The better move for a VHF station is to UHF where shorter propagation distances and the possibility of higher power density is available to overcome losses and noise. The problem with UHF is that the number of available channels now no longer exists, due to the FCC removing them from broadcast use and assigning them to 2-way and Cell phone use. The other issue with UHF even with the full original band that was assigned was the number of taboo channels that existed due to poor receiver design that limits the number of possible channels available. One should have listened to those that originally proposed DTV, to the reasons that UHF was selected, to the need for better receivers and why VHF was not even considered. Too bad the broadcasters did not listen and in not listening allowed the FCC to take most of the UHF band away leaving only a small amount of UHF left available to broadcast use while leaving the now really non usable full lo

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