CHAPTER 24, Inc., MADISON, WI
Contents for this Newsletter|
About This Newsletter
Upcoming Meeting Schedule
Upcoming Chapter 24 Events
Broadband Networks- Part 25
Auctions To Decide Broadcast Winners and Losers
3rd Annual Chapter 24 Bake Off!!!
Research Volunteers Needed for the SBE's DTV Study
Amateur Radio News
SBE's Short Circuits
Chapter Sustaining Members
ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER
The Chapter 24 Newsletter is published monthly by Chapter 24 of the Society of Broadcast Engineers; Madison, Wisconsin. Original hard copy edited by Mike Norton on Pagemaker 5.0. Submissions of interest to the broadcast technical community are welcome. You can make your submissions by e-mail to:
Information and/or articles are also accepted by US Mail. Please address them to:
Please submit text file on DOS or Windows 3.5" floppy diskette if possible.
Steve Paugh is the editor for the Electronic Version of this Newsletter uploaded monthly onto SBE Chapter 24's web page.
Thanks to Chris Cain for his work on the Chapter 24 WWW page and electronic newsletter.
Contributors this month:
© 1998 by SBE Chapter 24. Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Society, its officers, or its members. SBE Chapter 24 regrets, but is not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Chapter 24 Newsletter is published twelve times per year. Other SBE Chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original author, sources, and SBE Chapter 24.
MEETING ANNOUNCEMENTWednesday, October 21, 1998
Broadcasters Clinic: Preparing For The Year 2000
This month's program will begin with a meeting of the Upper Midwest SBE Chapters.
Following the meeting, John Reuter of Odetics will have a presentation on "Preparing for the Year 2000," and how this issue may relate to broadcast systems and facilities.
The meeting and program are being held in conjunction with the Broadcaster Clinic. You do not have to be registered for the Broadcasters Clinic to attend this program. We will be staring earlier than normal, beginning at 6:30 PM.
1313 John Q. Hammonds Drive
(formally the Holiday Inn - West)
Visitors and guests are welcome at all of our SBE meetings!
Thursday, November 19th, 1998
SEPTEMBER BUSINESS MEETING MINUTES
Submitted by Lloyd Berg, Secretary
Chapter 24 of the society of Broadcast Engineers met on Wednesday, September 16, 1998 at Fitzgerald's of Middleton, In Middleton, Wisconsin. There were 18 members and two guests present. 13 were certified.
The meeting was called to order by Chair Fred Sperry at 7:10 PM. Minutes of the August meeting, as published in the September newsletter, were approved as written.
Thanks were given to Herb Van Driel / Panasonic for supplying liquid refreshments. Stan Scharch, Treasurer, reported that our chapter account is in the black.
New Business: Newsletter deadlines: Oct 9 for material, Oct 14 folding party. Denise Maney, Program, announced plans for a November youth meeting to be held at WKOW-TV.
Kevin Ruppert, Vice Chair, reminded everyone about the special DTV Express meeting on September 22nd
Jim Hermanson, Certification, announced the deadline for applying to take SBE certification exams in November is just a few days away.
Tom Smith, Frequency Coordinator, announced that he is researching the FCC database for our area. He also warned of coordination concerns with the NFL & FOX. Wireless headset & microphone manufacturer Telex refuses to give out frequencies, so they can not be coordinated. Tom also mentioned a recent interference case in Minneapolis where visitor using European cellular phones caused interference to 900 MHz radio STL Links
Fred Sperry, Chair, announced that the SBE is looking for information to preserve (save) the remaining 2 GHz broadcast Aux band. Also, National SBE has invited Ch 24 to apply for Hosting of the 1999 Convention. He also announced that former Chapter 24 member Terry Baumgartner, now in Milwaukee Chapter 28, is being inducted as a Fellow in SBE. Finally, national SBE is looking for research volunteers for a DTV project, see their web site for details.
Steve Paugh, spoke about a possible DTV demonstration at next years UW Engineering Expo, and the need to obtain equipment and shoot material in a high definition format.
Our originally scheduled program was replaced by a discussion of concerns and ongoing problems of Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) viewers seeking local reception waivers from the Madison TV stations in order to qualify to receive network programming directly from satellite.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 PM
UPCOMING CHAPTER 24 EVENTS
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight Chapter 24's next two scheduled meetings and programs.
As has been the case for the past five years, Chapter 24, in conjunction with the Upper Midwest Region SBE Chapters, is hosting the Wednesday evening (October 21st) program at this years Broadcasters Clinic. We will start with the meeting of the Upper Midwest SBE Chapters at 6:30 PM. Following the meeting will be a presentation by Mr. John Reuter from Odetics entitled "Preparing for the Year 2000." Many of you may remember John as a former member of Chapter 24.
John's presentation will focus on the issues facing broadcast facilities as we approach the year 2000. This should prove to be an interesting and informative presentation on this hot topic. Please note that you do not have to be registered for the Broadcaster's Clinic to attend this meeting and program.
In November, Chapter 24 will host its first annual Youth Night. This project began at the National SBE level as a way to get high school students interested in the broadcast field as a possible career path. The National office has requested that each Chapter hold an annual meeting geared towards this initiative. We have planned our Youth Night meeting for Thursday evening November 19th at WKOW-TV. The program will be comprised of a presentation on broadcast engineering, our regular Chapter 24 meeting, and finally a tour of the WKOW-TV facilities. Chapter 24 will also provide dinner. Invitations have been sent out to area high school counselors inviting students that have expressed an interest in the broadcasting or related field. If you know of a high school student that fits into this category, please encourage them to attend. It is important that any students planning on attending RSVP to Denise Maney at 277-8001 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org by November 12th so she knows how many students to anticipate. I would also encourage Chapter members to attend this program and show support to the students in attendance. Finally, a big thank-you to Denise Maney who is coordinating this event and has already put in a lot of time creating and sending out invitations to the schools.
I hope we will see you at both the October and November Chapter 24 meetings!
BROADBAND NETWORKS PART 25- FCC SIGNAL LEAKAGE RULESBy Neal McLain
This is Part 25 in a series of articles about broadband networks. In this article, we'll continue our discussion of the FCC rules governing signal egress from broadband networks.
FCC rules regulating egress from broadband networks are contained in Part 76, Subpart K, of the Code of Federal Regulations. Part 76 covers Cable Television Service generally; the technical standards set forth in Subpart K apply to all broadband networks, CATV or otherwise.
The specific rules affecting egress are:
§76.605(a)(13) Maximum Permissible Leakage Level §76.609(h) Leakage Measurement Procedures §76.610 Operation in Aeronautical Frequency Bands §76.611 Basic Leakage Performance Criteria §76.612 Frequency Separation Standards §76.613 Interference from a Cable Television System §76.614 Regular Monitoring §76.615 Notification Requirements §76.616 Operation near Critical Frequencies
Last month we discussed four rules which apply to all cable television systems: §76.605(a)(13), §76.609(h), §76.613, and §76.616.
The remaining rules apply only to cable systems which carry any carrier which meets two criteria:Operates at a frequency which falls in the aeronautical-frequency bands.
Operates at a level exceeding +38.25 dBmV (10-4 watts) at any point in the distribution system.
In this article, we'll discuss four of the these remaining rules: §76.610, §76.612, §76.614, and §76.615. We'll hold §76.611 (Basic Leakage Performance Criteria) until November.
This rule is a "trigger rule": it specifies that if a cable television system carries any carrier which falls in any aeronautical band, rules §76.611, §76.612, §76.614, and §76.615 also apply.
This rule specifies the boundaries of the aeronautical frequency bands as follows:
108-137 MHz 225-400 MHz
These frequencies are assigned to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA uses these frequency bands for three services:
Given the importance of these bands to aviation safety, it's certainly no surprise that the FCC has established special rules to protect them from interference.
This rule specifies that, if a cable television system carries any carriers in any aeronautical band, all such carriers must be offset from carriers used by the FAA. The following table lists the offset requirements:
The FCC rules do not specify whether the offsets must be positive or negative. However, by common cable industry practice, positive offsets are almost universally used.
To illustrate these requirements, here are three examples:
Cable Channel 14 (120-126 MHz): The nominal visual carrier frequency is 121.25 MHz; therefore, it falls in the Aeronautical Mobile band. Applying the required offset yields 121.25 + 0.0125 = 121.2625 MHz, halfway between Aeronautical Mobile frequencies at 121.2500 and 121.2750 MHz.
The allowable frequency tolerance in all cases is ±5 KHz.
As it happens, cable television operators also have another reason for offsetting visual carriers: distortion control. By applying appropriate offsets, distortion products resulting from the interaction among visual carriers can be forced to fall precisely on top of other visual carriers, effectively masking them.
Unfortunately, the offsets required by the FCC and the offsets necessary for distortion control aren't the same. In an effort to resolve these conflicting demands, three different frequency-assignment plans have evolved over the years:"STANDARD": Under this plan, offsets are applied only where required by FCC frequency-separation rules. Non-offset visual carriers operate at the same nominal frequencies used in the VHF television broadcast band:
F(c) = 6*n+1.25where n is an integer.
IRC (Incrementally Related-Carriers): Under this plan, all visual carriers are phaselocked to harmonics of a single master oscillator in accordance with the following relationship:
F(c) = 6*n+1.2625where n indicates the harmonic of a master oscillator operating at 6.000 MHz. This technique was devised to control a type of distortion known as "third order distortion," which results from the interaction among groups of three carriers. Channels 5 and 6 are shifted upwards by 2 MHz; the resulting 6-MHz gap between Channels 4 and 5 is designated Channel 1.
HRC (Harmonically Related Carriers): Under this plan, all visual carriers are phaselocked to harmonics of a single master oscillator in accordance with the following relationship:
F(c) = 6*nwhere n indicates the harmonic of a master oscillator operating at 6.0003 MHz ±1 Hz. Note that frequency tolerance: plus-or-minus one Hertz. This technique was devised to control a type of distortion known as "second order distortion," which results from the interaction between pairs of carriers. All channels are shifted down by about 1.25 MHz except for Channels 5 and 6 which are shifted up by 0.75 MHz; the resulting 6-MHz gap between Channels 4 and 5 is designated Channel 1.
The resulting carrier assignments are listed in the following table. Every frequency listed in this table meets three criteria:
It complies with applicable FCC rules.
Gaps in the table indicate frequencies which do not comply with all three criteria. Cable operators cannot use these channels for video services.
NOMINAL STANDARD IRC HRC MASTER CHANNEL CABLE CARRIER CARRIER CARRIER OSCILLATOR BOUNDARIES CHANNEL FREQUENCY FREQUENCY FREQUENCY HARMONIC 54-60 2 55.2500 55.2625 54.0027 9 60-66 3 61.2500 61.2625 60.0030 10 66-72 4 67.2500 67.2625 66.0033 11 72-76 1 73.2625 72.0036 12 76-82 5 77.2500 79.2625 78.0039 13 82-88 6 83.2500 85.2625 84.0042 14 90-96 95 91.2500 91.2625 90.0045 15 96-102 96 97.2500 97.2625 96.0048 16 102-108 97 103.2500 103.2625 102.0051 17 108-114 98 109.2750 18 114-120 99 115.2750 19 120-126 14 121.2625 121.2625 120.0060 20 126-132 15 127.2625 127.2625 126.0063 21 132-138 16 133.2625 133.2625 132.0066 22 138-144 17 139.2500 139.2625 138.0069 23 144-150 18 145.2500 145.2625 144.0072 24 150-156 19 151.2500 151.2625 150.0075 25 156-162 20 157.2500 157.2625 156.0078 26 162-168 21 163.2500 163.2625 162.0081 27 168-174 22 169.2500 169.2625 168.0084 28 174-180 7 175.2500 175.2625 174.0087 29 180-186 8 181.2500 181.2625 180.0090 30 186-192 9 187.2500 187.2625 186.0093 31 192-198 10 193.2500 193.2625 192.0096 32 198-204 11 199.2500 199.2625 198.0099 33 204-210 12 205.2500 205.2625 204.0102 34 210-216 13 211.2500 211.2625 210.0105 35 216-222 23 217.2500 217.2625 216.0108 36 222-228 24 223.2500 223.2625 222.0111 37 228-234 25 229.2625 229.2625 228.0114 38 234-240 26 235.2625 235.2625 234.0117 39 240-246 27 241.2625 241.2625 240.0120 40 246-252 28 247.2625 247.2625 246.0123 41 252-258 29 253.2625 253.2625 252.0126 42 258-264 30 259.2625 259.2625 258.0129 43 264-270 31 265.2625 265.2625 264.0132 44 270-276 32 271.2625 271.2625 270.0135 45 276-282 33 277.2625 277.2625 276.0138 46 282-288 34 283.2625 283.2625 282.0141 47 288-294 35 289.2625 289.2625 288.0144 48 294-300 36 295.2625 295.2625 294.0147 49 300-306 37 301.2625 301.2625 300.0150 50 306-312 38 307.2625 307.2625 306.0153 51 312-318 39 313.2625 313.2625 312.0156 52 318-324 40 319.2625 319.2625 318.0159 53 324-330 41 325.2625 325.2625 324.0162 54 330-336 42 331.2750 330.0165 55 336-342 43 337.2625 337.2625 336.0168 56 342-348 44 343.2625 343.2625 342.0171 57 348-354 45 349.2625 349.2625 348.0174 58 354-360 46 355.2625 355.2625 354.0177 59 360-366 47 361.2625 361.2625 360.0180 60 366-372 48 367.2625 367.2625 366.0183 61 372-378 49 373.2625 373.2625 372.0186 62 378-384 50 379.2625 379.2625 378.0189 63 384-390 51 385.2625 385.2625 384.0192 64 390-396 52 391.2625 391.2625 390.0195 65 396-402 53 397.2625 397.2625 396.0198 66 402-408 54 403.2500 403.2625 402.0201 67 408-414 55 409.2500 409.2625 408.0204 68 414-420 56 415.2500 415.2625 414.0207 69 420-426 57 421.2500 421.2625 420.0210 70 426-432 58 427.2500 427.2625 426.0213 71 432-438 59 433.2500 433.2625 432.0216 72 438-444 60 439.2500 439.2625 438.0219 73 444-450 61 445.2500 445.2625 444.0222 74 450-456 62 451.2500 451.2625 450.0225 75 456-462 63 457.2500 457.2625 456.0228 76 462-468 64 463.2500 463.2625 462.0231 77 468-474 65 469.2500 469.2625 468.0234 78 474-480 66 475.2500 475.2625 474.0237 79 480-486 67 481.2500 481.2625 480.0240 80 486-492 68 487.2500 487.2625 486.0243 81 492-498 69 493.2500 493.2625 492.0246 82 498-504 70 499.2500 499.2625 498.0249 83 504-510 71 505.2500 505.2625 504.0252 84 510-516 72 511.2500 511.2625 510.0255 85 516-522 73 517.2500 517.2625 516.0258 86 522-528 74 523.2500 523.2625 522.0261 87 528-534 75 529.2500 529.2625 528.0264 88 534-540 76 535.2500 535.2625 534.0267 89 540-546 77 541.2500 541.2625 540.0270 90 546-552 78 547.2500 547.2625 546.0273 91 552-558 79 553.2500 553.2625 552.0276 92 558-564 80 559.2500 559.2625 558.0279 93 564-570 81 565.2500 565.2625 564.0282 94 570-576 82 571.2500 571.2625 570.0285 95 576-582 83 577.2500 577.2625 576.0288 96 582-588 84 583.2500 583.2625 582.0291 97 588-594 85 589.2500 589.2625 588.0294 98 594-600 86 595.2500 595.2625 594.0297 99 600-606 87 601.2500 601.2625 600.0300 100 606-612 88 607.2500 607.2625 606.0303 101 612-618 89 613.2500 613.2625 612.0306 102 618-624 90 619.2500 619.2625 618.0309 103 624-630 91 625.2500 625.2625 624.0312 104 630-636 92 631.2500 631.2625 630.0315 105 636-642 93 637.2500 637.2625 636.0318 106 642-648 94 643.2500 643.2625 642.0321 107 648-654 100 649.2500 649.2625 648.0324 108 654-660 101 655.2500 655.2625 654.0327 109 660-666 102 661.2500 661.2625 660.0330 110 666-672 103 667.2500 667.2625 666.0333 111 672-678 104 673.2500 673.2625 672.0336 112 678-684 105 679.2500 679.2625 678.0339 113 684-690 106 685.2500 685.2625 684.0342 114 690-696 107 691.2500 691.2625 690.0345 115 696-702 108 697.2500 697.2625 696.0348 116 702-708 109 703.2500 703.2625 702.0351 117 708-714 110 709.2500 709.2625 708.0354 118 714-720 111 715.2500 715.2625 714.0357 119 720-726 112 721.2500 721.2625 720.0360 120 726-732 113 727.2500 727.2625 726.0363 121 732-738 114 733.2500 733.2625 732.0366 122 738-744 115 739.2500 739.2625 738.0369 123 744-750 116 745.2500 745.2625 744.0372 124 750-756 117 751.2500 751.2625 750.0375 125 756-762 118 757.2500 757.2625 756.0378 126 762-768 119 763.2500 763.2625 762.0381 127 768-774 120 769.2500 769.2625 768.0384 128 774-780 121 775.2500 775.2625 774.0387 129 780-786 122 781.2500 781.2625 780.0390 130 786-792 123 787.2500 787.2625 786.0393 131 792-798 124 793.2500 793.2625 792.0396 132 798-804 125 799.2500 799.2625 798.0399 133
Many, but certainly not all, so-called "cable-ready" TV sets can accommodate the IRC and HRC frequency plans, although many older sets cannot properly tune Channels 1, 5, 6, and 95-99. Compatible sets include a provision for specifying the plan to be used: either a switch or an option in the setup menu. If the TV set cannot tune to all frequencies, a settop converter is usually required.
We should note at this juncture that most modern cable television systems now use the standard frequency plan. When IRC and HRC systems were first introduced in the late 70s, many new cable television systems were being designed to carry 50 or 60 channels; in those days, IRC and HRC were the only feasible means of controlling distortion. However, the rise of fiber optics during the past decade has greatly reduced the need for long amplifier cascades, thus dramatically improving the distortion performance of cable television distribution networks. As a result, offsets for distortion control are no longer necessary. Thanks to fiber optics, IRC and HRC are now nothing more than interesting historical relics.
This rule imposes the following requirement: the operator of every cable television system must monitor the entire distribution system for egress leakage on a quarterly basis, and repair all leaks identified. The results of this monitoring effort must be logged, and the log must be placed in the system's public inspection file. The log does not have to be submitted to the FCC; however, it must be made available to an FCC inspector on request.
Complying with this rule generally means that the cable operator must establish a formal search-and-repair program. In the ideal situation, one or more service trucks are dedicated full-time to locating and repairing leaks.
This rule also allows the operator to do the monitoring during the course of normal daily activities. Many operators follow this practice: leakage detection equipment and log forms are carried in every service truck. Leaks, when detected, are measured, logged, and repaired.
For each leak, the log must contain the following information:Date the leak was detected.
Location of the leak. This information can be specified by street address, by utility pole number, or by a description such as "South Side of Main Street 6 poles west of First Street."
Field intensity of the leak, in microvolts per meter at 3 meters. Leaks lower that 20 microvolts per meter need not be logged (but, of course, they should still be repaired!).
Date the leak was repaired.
Probable cause of the leak. This information can be specified with a short phrase such as "cracked cable," "loose amplifier cover," or "animal damage." Many cable operators utilize a standardized list of causes so that the cause can be identified by number.
The obvious goal of this rule is this: find the leaks and fix them!
A question could logically be asked at this point: if the objective is to find and repair leaks, why keep a log? Why not just fix them?
From the FCC's perspective, the answer is this: the FCC wants the cable operator to establish an audit trail of every leak in case a question should arise later. Suppose, for example, that the FCC receives several complaints from amateur-radio operators about interference. In such cases, the FCC expects that the cable operator will be able to document the location and cause of every leak, and to state what, if anything, was done to repair it.
There's also an operational reason for keeping the log: sometimes there's a delay of a few days between finding a leak and fixing it. In a common situation, a technician may detect a leak during the normal course of driving around town, but he may not have time to stop and fix it on the spot. The log records this situation as an "open leak," to be repaired as soon as possible.
If I were an inspector inspecting a cable system's leakage log, I would look for three things:Groupings of log entries having similar dates and locations. These entries would confirm that the system maintains a diligent search-and-repair activity.
Random unrelated entries sprinkled in among the groupings. These entries would confirm that system technicians are conscientious about logging leaks detected during the normal course of daily activities.
Open leaks. Any open leak more than a week old would be cause for concern.
This rule imposes the following requirement: the operator of every cable television system must notify the FCC annually of every carrier carried on the distribution system. The notification must be made before a new carrier is added to the distribution system, and annually thereafter. The notification may be made by either of the following procedures:By letter. This procedure is usually followed when new carriers are to be added.
By Form 325. This is an annual report required of all cable operators. Schedule 2 of this report requires a list of carrier frequencies. The "timely filing" of this form satisfies the annual-notification requirement.
The following information is required:Legal name and address of the cable operator.
FCC "Community Unit Identification Number" of the cable system. This number is assigned by the FCC the first time a notification is made; it must be used on all subsequent notifications.
The names and telephone numbers of local system officials who are responsible for compliance with rules §76.610 through §76.616.
The frequency, frequency tolerance, type of modulation, and maximum average power level of every carrier and subcarrier carried anywhere in the distribution system.
The geographic coordinates of a point near the center of the distribution system, and the distance, in kilometers, from the center to the most remote point on the distribution system. This information describes a circle which contains the entire distribution system.
A description of the monitoring procedure. This description identify the measurement equipment used, and the procedures followed, during the course of the monitoring required by §76.614.
The results of the measurements and calculations made in compliance with §76.611 (Basic Leakage Performance Criteria).
The FCC compiles this information into a computerized database. While the FCC doesn't specify what it does with this information, it's safe to assume that employees of the Field Operations Bureau have access it when they inspect a cable system. In my experience, by the time an FCC inspector shows up at the cable system's front door, he already has a list of things to talk about. He already knows where the worst leaks are; he already knows which carriers are out of frequency tolerance; and he's even checked the tower lights.
Next month we'll continue this leakage discussion with a detailed look at a single rule: §76.611, Basic Leakage Performance Criteria.
AUCTIONS TO DECIDE BROADCAST WINNERS AND LOSERSBy Tom Smith
On August 6, 1998, the FCC issued new rules on how broadcast licenses are selected. New licenses will now be granted to the highest bidder in a multi-round electronic auction. These rules are a complete departure from the way the FCC has selected new broadcast licenses in the past. This action is a result of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Congress ordered the FCC to settle pending and future mutually exclusive applications for construction permits by auction for both broadcast and Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS). This follows the previous actions by Congress that required auctions for the issuing of licenses for new services such as Personal Communications Services (PCS), Interactive Digital Video Service (IDVS), and Wireless Communications Service. Congress also ordered auctions for existing services such as Direct Broadcast Satellite, Multi-point Microwave Distribution Service (MMDS), and Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) and now for broadcast radio and television.
This article will cover the history and methods of applying for broadcast and other licenses in the past and how the process has evolved into the use of auctions today. The process has been changing over the years as regulation was reduced and new services were created.
For many years, the FCC chose new license winners based on the qualifications of the applicant and proposed service that they promised. The application process changed over the years until it became difficult to determine the most qualified applicant.
To file an application in the 1970's and before, one had to follow the following process: The first step was to find a frequency for the new station for the town you wanted to build in, whether it be an AM, FM or TV. With an AM station, the applicant filed an application for the frequency they wished at anytime on a first-come, first-served basis. For FM and TV stations, one would look for a frequency for a particular community from a table issued by the FCC and also apply on a first come, first served basis. At one time, an applicant would select their own frequency for a new FM or TV station, but the FCC issued allocation tables for applicants to follow with TV starting in the early fifties and with FM in the early sixties.
If there was not a FM or TV frequency available in that particular community, then the applicant had to find one and ask the FCC to issue a new rule that would add that frequency to the allocation table. The FCC would issue a Notice of Rule Making, asking for comments for a period of time, and then issue the new allocation, if it met all the separation requirements. The application could then be filed any time after the effective date of the new allocation.
After the application was filed, the FCC would issue a Public Notice that it had received the application, and again when it accepted the application, and would issue a cut-off date for accepting any competing application. Besides the required technical information, each applicant was required to supply information concerning its finances, showing that it could operate the station for a year without any revenue. Other information that the FCC asked for included questions on legal qualifications, such as "Are the applicants citizens of the United States," and if they were within the FCC ownership limits. The FCC also asked for information on the character of the applicant which included questions on any convictions of the law and public service, such as holding public office and membership in civic organizations. Applicants were required to do an ascertainment or survey of the public to determine their needs and give a statement on how the programming of the new station would meet those needs. In the 70's, the FCC started asking if any of the owners were female or minority, if they lived in the community, and if they would be involved in the daily operation of the station.
If the applicant meet the FCC qualifications, they would be issued a construction permit. If there were more then one applicant or if there were questions about the applicants qualifications, the FCC would hold a hearing. To determine the most qualified of multiple applicants, the hearing examiner would compare the financial and legal qualifications, the character of the applicants, and the proposed programming plan to determine the winner. The examiner would also consider and give extra credit for female, minority and local ownership, and integration into daily management.
This system of awarding licenses worked more or less until the late 70's and early 80's. During this time, there was an increased interest in the construction of FM stations, followed by an increase in UHF-TV stations. Many allocations that laid unused for many years were now attracting numerous applicants. It was becoming more difficult for the FCC to sort out, as applicants increased and differences between applicants decreased. Applicants started to go to court to appeal the FCC decisions and ask courts to declare the standards concerning finances and preferences for female, minority, local ownership, and integration in daily management illegal.
If this wasn't enough, the FCC created the low-power TV service and shortly after created almost 700 new FM allocations with docket 80-90. The FCC was deluged with thousands of applications for low-power TV. The number of applications was increased by the appearance of so-called application mills. These were technical consultants that solicited parties to file for these new low-power stations and later for the new FM stations. Some of these consultants would file applications for a number of parties seeking the same frequency.
After seeing the problems with low-power TV, the FCC came up with another plan for issuing new FM licenses. Applicants would have to wait for the FCC to open a filing window for accepting new applications for a particular community. The window would be opened for 30 to 45 days. If no one filed during the filing window, the FCC would open the allocation to first-come, first-serve by granting the license to the first qualified applicant. The FCC eventually created a window filing system for low-power TV. At various times of the year, the FCC would announce a filing window that would last for a few days and accept low-power TV applications during that time only.
During this time, the FCC started to deregulate and, as part of the deregulation, changed the application so that less detailed information was required. Some questions concerning financial and legal information were reduced to a check off box stating that the applicant meet the qualifications. The FCC also reduced the financial requirements to requiring the applicant to be able to operate for three months without revenue. This made it more difficult to create criteria to determine the qualifications of the applicants. To offset some of the problems and cost from the increase of applications, the FCC got the right to charge fees of thousands of dollars depending on the service. If the application went to a hearing the FCC charged a fee of more than $6000. Fees for filing an application for a new station had been only a couple of hundred dollars in the early 70's and a court action suspended fees for a number of years from the late 70's into the late 80's after the FCC tried in 1975 to adopt fees from several hundred dollars for a small AM station to tens of thousands for a big market TV station.
By 1993, the courts had ruled that the most of the criteria concerning female, minority, local ownership and integration of ownership were illegal. At that time, comparative hearings ground to a halt. The only mutually-exclusive applications being settled were those that came to an agreement between themselves. The applicants would either merge together or buy out each other and thus settle who receives the license after approval from the FCC.
In 1993, Congress, as part of the Omnibus Budget Act of 1993, decided to transfer 200 megahertz of spectrum from government use to civilian use, of which 100 megahertz was below 3,000 megahertz. As part of this transfer, Congress decided the spectrum should be auctioned to raise money to pay for the National debt. Congress extended the auctions to some existing spectrum. In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress extended auctions to broadcast and Instruction Television Fixed Service.
Earlier this year, the FCC issued a Notice of Rulemaking and ask for comment on how to implement the wishes of Congress and create an auction procedure for broadcast licenses. At the same time the FCC froze the application process by not taking any new applications and ceasing to process any mutually-exclusive applications. An auction procedure for determining new licenses was created and the FCC made a decision that it would also include existing applicants already in comparative hearing process and decide their future with the use of auctions.
What applicants are included in the auctions? All applicants for new AM, FM, and TV full-power stations and applicants for low-power TV, FM and TV translators and ITFS stations. The only applicants that are exempt are those applicants for reserved non-commercial frequencies and the second channels given to existing TV stations for DTV. Existing station licenses could also be involved in auctions. If there is a conflict between two stations filing for upgraded facilities, the FCC would conduct an auction to determine which station gets the upgrade. This would happen when the upgrade creates a prohibited signal overlap. Because Congress did not expressly exempt ITFS from auctions, like it did for non-commercial radio and TV, the FCC will proceed with auctions for mutually-exclusive ITFS applications, but they will wait to allow for Congress to provide guidance on the issue.
There are a number of steps in the auction procedure with short intervals between steps. The first step, after an applicant finds a open frequency to apply for, depends on the service. For FM and TV, if there is no open frequency on the table of allocations, the potential applicant must file to the amend the table and wait for a Rulemaking. For AM, low-power TV and translator services, frequency selection is part of the application process. The application process begins with the filing of FCC Form 175, which is an application to participate in an auction. This application is filed during a filing window which the FCC will announce at various times of the year. This is a 2 or 3 page application that is to be filed electronically. The program for filing Form 175 fills three high-density floppy discs and can be downloaded from the FCC web site before the auction. Page one asks for: applicants name, address, phone number, e-mail address, taxpayer identification number which is either an IRS business tax number or a social security number; and the markets and frequencies that the applicant wishes to bid on. Page one also asks for names of those allowed to bid and if the applicant is eligible for any bidding credits. There is an certification for the applicant to affirm that they meet the legal requirements and are financially able to construct the station. The second page is the instruction sheet and the third page is a supplemental sheet for listing additional markets and frequencies. A copy can be downloaded from the forms page on the FCC web site. Electronic connection to the FCC is made on a "900" number for $2.30 per minute. TV and FM stations do not have to file any other information. AM, low-power TV, translators, and stations making major changes, have to file an engineering section that is similar to the one in the current applications for that particular service. This is for the FCC to determine conflicts between applications. A week after the filing period ends, the FCC will notify the applicants if there application is accepted or incomplete. A week later, those with incomplete applications must be refiled. All applicants must pay the up front or minimum bid payment. The traditional amount has been $0.02 per pop (person) per megahertz in each market that the applicant is bidding within. The amount under this formula for a TV station in a market of 1,000,000 people would be 1,000,000 people times $0.02 times 6 megahertz for a total of $120,000. This is one method the FCC has used and the FCC could chose to use other methods. A week later, the FCC will issue a Public Notice listing the bidders and in what markets they are bidding for. The bidders are then registered and a package is sent by overnight delivery containing the bidding information, which includes a copy of the Public Notice, bidding software, access codes, information on a mock auction and other needed materials. A couple of days later a mock auction is held and then 5 days later the auction starts.
The auction is conducted with multi-rounds of bidding until there is no bidder that is willing to increase the previous high bid. The FCC will set a minimum bid per round and an amount bidding activity. No bidders will be allowed to sit out until the closing rounds.
Once a winner is determined, the winner must be notified; a full application must be filed; and the remainder of the winning bid must be paid. The winner must make a 20 percent down payment within ten business days of the being notified and must file a long form application within 30 days of the notification date. The rest of the bid must be paid within ten business days following a Public Notice that the FCC will award the license to the winning bidder. The FCC will accept petitions to deny for ten days following the Public Notice that the Commission has accepted the long form application for filing. The applicant has five days from the petition to deny's filing date to file their opposition and petitioner has another five days to reply.
To enable small business to better compete in the auctions, the FCC offers a bidding credit or discount so that they can increase their bid in relation to larger businesses with higher bank accounts. A bidder with no other media interest ( more than 50 % interest or defacto control ) will get a 35 percent bidding credit. A bidder with no more than 3 media outlets and none in the same area of the proposed station will be able to receive a 25 percent bidding credit. Media interests include broadcast stations, cable TV systems and newspapers. The "same area" includes relevant contours for broadcast stations or the community that a cable system operates in or a newspaper publishes in. A bidder who receives a credit will have to repay all or part of the credit if they sell the station within 5 years to someone who would not qualify for the credit.
The FCC still plans on making some adjustments to the auction procedure to adapt for some needs that may be special to broadcast auction. The FCC originally wrote a new set of rules for each auction when they first started the auction process. The FCC now has a basic set of rules for all auctions located in Part One of the FCC Rules. The FCC makes additional rules for each auction's needs, such as minimum bids and bid increments and some adjustments in the timelines.
The FCC holds seminars before the start of auctions to explain the procedures ( in Washington, D.C. ) and has information on the auction page of its web site. Before attempting to apply to participate in an auction: read all rulemakings concerning the particular auction; the sections of Part One of the Rules concerning auctions; and any information on the FCC web site concerning auctions. Attending an FCC seminar and retaining an attorney versed in auctions may be required for the best understanding of the process. The timelines for auctions are short and electronic filing and bidding systems are complex enough that errors could easily occur and could be costly in either the placing too high a bid or losing the opportunity to place a bid.
The rules become effective on November 10th. The full notice is available on the FCC web site and the rules were published on the FEDERAL REGISTER on September 11, 1998 on pages 48,615-48,633. The FCC planned to start the first broadcast auctions this fall, but that could be delayed by the need for additional rulemaking and legal challenges. There is a lawsuit against the FCC in a Boston Federal Court that claims economic injury. An applicant that was involved in an existing comparative hearing is claiming that he has been economically injured because he has paid a substantial amount of legal fees in preparing for and appearing in a hearing and now the rules are changed and additional costs are imposed by having to participate in a auction.
3rd ANNUAL CHAPTER 24 BAKE OFFBy Kevin Ruppert
Yes! We are going to try it again! We do not want left overs, we really want everyone in Chapter 24 to bake fresh cookies once again for the Bake Off in conjunction with the Broadcaster's Clinic!
All chapter members are eligible to participate. What you have to do is to make two dozen home made cookies. (There will be nothing stale about it!)
All of the cookies from all of the members will be displayed (and eaten) in the chapter's booth at the Broadcaster's Clinic. A ballot box will provide Clinic goers a chance to vote for their favorite cookies!
The rules are the same as last year, and are simple! Any Chapter 24 member is eligible. The cookies must be made from scratch. No mixes! The Chapter member must be the one who actually bakes the cookies. No spouses! (You can get minimal assistance from your spouse, such as having him/her show you which end of the rolling pin should face the dough.)
Please bring your batch to the Chapter 24 booth at the Clinic exhibits floor by 4:30pm on Tuesday. One dozen will be displayed/available to eat on Tuesday, with the second dozen available Wednesday.
Even if you don't bake a batch, come to the booth, chat for a while, and have some home made cookies. A special prize will be given to the person with the most votes. And we promise that you will not have to watch any campaign commercials while you are there!
RESEARCH VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR THE SBE's DTV STUDY
Research volunteers are needed for a study on the competencies required of broadcast engineers to implement DTV. Steve Bauder, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and Chief Engineer of Wisconsin Public Television/Radio station WHWC, is conducting the research on behalf of the SBE.
Volunteers are needed to complete a survey in which they will be asked to rate the importance of various skills, knowledge and abilities compiled from a panel of leaders in the field of digital television. The only pre-requisite for participation is a cursory understanding of the technologies of digital television.
Please e-mail your interest in the study to: email@example.com
AMATEUR RADIO NEWSBy Tom Weeden, WJ9H
• New developments in amateur radio spread-spectrum technology were highlighted at the 17th Digital Communications Conference last month in Rolling Meadows, IL. Japanese hams showed experimental 2.4 GHz stations operating at data rates of about 800 kbit/s. Experiments using cable modems modified for use over the air on amateur frequencies are also underway in the San Francisco Bay area. These technological efforts did not escape the notice of conference keynote speaker Dale N. Hatfield, W0IFO, Chief of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology. He expressed pleasure and approval at seeing the kind of experimental work that amateurs are engaged in, calling such efforts vital to the future of Amateur Radio. The conference was sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR).
• The FCC has levied a $2500 fine on a Florida ham for malicious interference on a business radio service frequency. Jeffrey G. Guss, KF4MWT, of Palm Bay, Florida, was cited by the Commission following an investigation of several months that also involved malicious interference to an amateur repeater.
(Excerpts from the October 9, 1998 "ARRL Letter")
SBE's SHORT CIRCUITS- OCTOBER 1998By John L. Poray, CAE
SBE CONTINGENT TAKES BAS ISSUE TO CAPITOL HILL
Led by President, Ed Miller, CPBE, SBE's message on BAS spectrum was delivered to 11 members of the House Telecommunications Sub-committee on October 1-2. Joining Miller were SBE General Counsel, Chris Imlay and Executive Director, John Poray.
SBE's message is that replacement spectrum must be allocated to broadcasters to make up for losses in the 2 GHz band. The group also asked the Congressmen to support compensating broadcasters for the costs incurred in any moves to new band locations. Eleven appointments were set with the congressmen or their key staff during the two day trip, including the office of Sub-committee Chairman, Billy Tauzin, R-Louisiana. A meeting was also arranged with the staff of Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana, whose district the National SBE Headquarters resides.
A letter to Chapter Chairmen from President Miller in August asked for input on what continuing role, if any, should SBE take on the BAS issue. SBE has a history dating back more than ten years in protecting the 2 GHz band from spectrum predators. The resounding message back was to keep fighting to insure that adequate spectrum was set aside for broadcaster's BAS use.
EXPANDED CERTIFICATION EXAM PERIODS OFFER MORE CHOICES
SBE Certification Chairman, Terry Baun, CPBE, announced last month that opportunities to take SBE Certification Exams will double in 1999. There will be four 10-day periods, instead of the usual two periods, when exams can be offered in local chapters. This will provide more flexibility and convenience to members wishing to become certified. Exams can also be taken during the NAB Convention in Las Vegas. For more information about SBE Certification, see your Chapter Certification Chair or contact Linda Godby-Emerick, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 253-1640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
STUDENT NIGHTS KEY PART OF YOUTH PROGRAM
Some chapters have already started making plans to hold a "Student Night" Chapter Meeting later this fall or early in 1999. The SBE National Headquarters has a free special packet available to help chapters plan this special meeting. Just call us at (317) 253-1640 or e-mail Scott at email@example.com and we'll mail one to you. Be sure to let our office know when you plan to hold your special meeting and, after it's over, drop us a line to tell us how it went.
CHAPTER 24 SUSTAINING MEMBERS
THANKS TO ALL OUR SUSTAINING MEMBERS:Alpha Video
Belden Wire and Cable
Clark Wire and Cable
National Tower Service
Token Creek Productions