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FCC ‘Maximization’ Window Draws Almost 700 Applications

I counted 694 applications after the lifting of the freeze on DTV coverage expansion and the midnight June 20 cutoff time. While it is possible that some of these applications were not “maximization” applications, they represent a significant percentage of all full service TV licensees.

The FCC has promised that it will quickly grant applications that do not cause interference above the 0.5 percent “de-minimis” level and give applicants that are mutually exclusive 30 days to resolve the conflicts before dismissing both applications.

Doing interference studies, I was surprised at the impact that Class A LPTV stations had on DTV stations’ ability to maximize. In one case, a four-channel offset UHF taboo existed for DTV into an analog Class A, but did not exist for analog full service TV into Class A. I suspect this may affect other UHF broadcasters planning to use their analog channel for DTV broadcasting. In some locations, such as the Northeast, any expansion of coverage was difficult due to interference to adjacent and co-channel stations.

I encourage broadcasters to work together should the FCC determine two applications are mutually exclusive. As I’ve pointed out, while the FCC planning factors may be fine, or even conservative, for outdoor antennas at a 30-foot elevation with a preamplifier, significantly higher signal levels are needed for indoor reception in suburban or urban areas. While higher power from one station may cause more predicted interference in rural areas or adjacent market population center, if stations cooperate and increase power together they will be able to improve reception for existing viewers, whether in rural or urban areas.

If you are interested in seeing the applications filed before the midnight June 20 deadline, I’ve created a spreadsheet, dtv20080620.xls with all the applications filed between the lifting of the freeze and the June 20 cutoff time based on CDBS information.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.