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FCC Sides With Class A Licensee in 'Must-Carry' Dispute

The FCC issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order (DA 10-2377) granting WGBS-LD's request for coverage on Charter cable. What's interesting is that WGBS-LD challenged the way that Charter Communication VI, LLC was measuring its signal strength. The FCC, after its own analysis, agreed.

Because WGBS-LD is not co-located with other stations transmitters in that market, Charter used a lower gain antenna at a lower height for measuring WGBS-LD's signal, and found that it came up short by 3.53 dB. The antenna used for WGBS-LD was not only lower in elevation, but also had a peak gain spec of 7.6dBi. The antenna used to measure signal strength from the other stations had a 14.5 dBi gain spec--a difference of 6.9 dB. This was more than enough to create a shortfall in WGBS-LD's signal.

Based on this information, the FCC required Charter to begin carriage of WGBS-LD within 60 days, unless Charter submits an engineering study that complies with the requirement outlined in the MO&O and "demonstrates that WGBS-LD fails to place an adequate signal strength over Charter's principal headend."

The key point in this MO&O is that cable companies can't discriminate against stations by using inferior antennas at lower height or large antennas pointed the wrong direction when determining if the station provides adequate signal strength at their headend.

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.