The FCC's newest prior coordination procedures for the Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) took effect in October. The procedures are designed to minimize interference between services sharing frequency bands.
With implementation of the new rules, prior frequency coordination procedures are now required for all TV and aural BAS and CARS frequency bands. The new rules specifically affect fixed BAS in the bands 944- to 952MHz (950MHz), 2450- to 2583.5MHz (2.5GHz), 6875- to 7125MHz (7GHz), and 12700- to 13250MHz (13GHz). The procedures were already in effect for aural and TV BAS stations in the bands 6425- to 6525MHz and 17700- to 19700MHz. For the 1990- to 2110MHz band, the FCC will continue to maintain procedures that allow for local frequency coordination. However, the FCC's new rules supplement local frequency coordination procedures for fixed systems to require the submission of a certification attesting that all co-channel and adjacent-channel licensees and applicants potentially affected by the proposed fixed use of the frequencies have been notified and are in agreement that proposed facilities can be installed without causing harmful interference to other uses.
Requiring adherence to uniform frequency coordination procedures is expected to reduce interference between services sharing a band and to ease the analog-digital transition.
Proposed frequency usage must be coordinated with existing licensees, permittees and applicants in the area, as well as other applicants whose previously proposed facilities could affect or be affected by the new proposal in terms of frequency interference. Coordination must be completed prior to filing an application.
Coordination involves two separate elements: notification and response. To be acceptable, all applications and major technical amendments must certify that coordination, including response from notified parties, has been completed.
The new prior coordination procedures were supposed to take effect on April 16, but they were delayed for six months to give licensees time to correct inaccurate information in the FCC's electronic database. The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) had requested postponement of the new rules so that licensees could correct information including erroneous or missing receive site information such as geographic coordinates, antenna height, and make and model information. The mistakes were left over from licensing methods antedating the FCC's current Universal Licensing System (ULS). Approximately 29 percent of all fixed point-to-point BAS licensee records included some mistaken information. Receive site information was not even required prior to 1974, which is why it was missing in many old licenses. The inaccuracies in the ULS would have seriously impacted prior coordination efforts to avert interference.
No tower lights equals $120,500 fine
The FCC has issued a $120,500 notice of forfeiture to a tower company for failing to light a new 1000-foot tower in Richmond, VA.
FCC inspectors found the tower unlighted for several days and discovered that another tower at the site was unregistered. The maximum possible fine was levied because the FCC previously had fined the same company for failing to light a tower it owned in Florida. Indeed, the company had been cited for a total of three forfeitures in less than three years for at least 13 instances of failure to comply with antenna structure rules.
Harry C. Martin is an attorney with Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth PLC, Arlington, VA.
All commercial and Class A television stations must file their Children's Television Programming Reports (Form 398) electronically on or before Jan. 10, 2004. All commercial and noncommercial TV stations must place their fourth quarterly issues/programs lists in their public files, also by Jan. 10.
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