FCC Issues Document Covering Broadcast Towers, Migratory Birds

The FCC released a 148 page Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment of the Antenna Structure Registration Program. Comments on the Assessment are due Oct. 3, 2011.

This assessment will have a major impact on owners and users of towers registered in the FCC's Antenna Structure Registration database. Towers located in areas where migratory birds could be affected by their presence will be required to submit an environmental assessment. Several alternatives are suggested. Depending on the alternative selected, some types of towers (self-supporting masts less than 450 feet in height and using a red steady-burning light, for example) would be excluded from the environmental assessment. Review the Assessment for details on specific alternatives.

Alternatives excluded by the FCC are those that would prohibit all new tower construction, prohibit towers exceeding a certain height, prohibit guy wires on new towers, or prohibit towers in certain locations.

Considering the amount of new tower work that is likely to be needed if the FCC implements the recommendations in the National Broadband plan and has to relocate many TV stations to new channels, the alternative selected could have an impact on the cost and time required for repacking. The alternatives presented in the Assessment offer some reasonable workarounds for protecting migratory birds from towers.

(Once the tower issue is dealt with, the government will be free to start working on methodologies for dealing with the impact of cats on migratory birds.)

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.