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Order waives FCC LPTV, MVPD receive site rule

The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) June 1 acted on requests from 18 parties to waive a portion of commission rules to register LPTV and Multichannel Video Program Distributor receive sites more than 49.7mi (80km) outside the protected contour of TV stations they receive.

The rule, section 15.712(b), is intended to protect receive sites of licensed LPTV stations from interference at the expected maximum range of where a DTV station can be received over the air and also allow unlicensed devices “reasonable access” to TV spectrum white spaces, the OET order said.

Adding the nearly 50 LPTV and MVPD receive sites listed in two appendices accompanying the order to the TV band databases, which was set up to prevent unlicensed TV band devices from interfering with broadcasters, would not harm development of the devices nor “significantly decrease” how much spectrum is available for their use, the order said. “Hence, granting these waivers will not undermine the purpose of the rules,” it said.

The order also said there exists “a stronger public interest benefit” in granting the waivers than in “strict” application of the rules.

Additionally, the order grants permission to register five University of Utah sites that receive OTA TV signals as a backup to other reception methods in the database.

The Order addresses a wide variety of related issues, including protection of Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) links that receive an OTA signal and retransmit it to another location via microwave. The same section of FCC rules protects BAS links when the receive site is 80km outside the protected contour of the TV station received.

Mohave County found problems in the FCC databases related to protection of OTA inputs for microwave sites serving BAS stations, the order said. The county pointed out that the FCC’s Universal Licensing System database, which includes BAS links, is not setup to store information on multiple OTA channels received by microwave links.

In the Order, OET acknowledges the commission is aware of shortcoming with the ULS but said it doesn’t believe there are enough microwave stations that receive OTA signals outside a station’s protected contour to justify changing the ULS. The order, however, did grant Mohave County’s waiver request.