Monthly eNews January 2020

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WMSN-TV Fox 47


Our Next Meeting:
Thursday, January 23rd
The Madison Channel Change

Chapter 24 members Kevin Ruppert, Chief Engineer of WISC TV (News 3 Now), and Matt Mommaerts, Assistant Chief Engineer of WMSN TV (Fox 47), will take us on a deep dive into the Madison market's TV channel change project. They will tell us what modifications were required to the Candelabra tower and its complement of appendages during the project. We'll learn on which channel each affected station landed and what it took to get them there. Is it finished? We'll find out.

Click Map to Enlarge

Look Back 19 Years

Last Meeting's Minutes
Submitted by Russ Awe, Secretary

On Wednesday, December 11, 2019, Chapter 24 of the Society of Broadcast Engineers held their monthly meeting. The group met at the Maple Tree Supper Club in McFarland and together celebrated the annual SBE Holiday party. There were seven members present, five who were certified, along with four guests.

There was not a formal business meeting or program, although interesting topics were discussed over cocktails. The group continued interesting conversations over dinner, and a good time was had by all.

Program Ideas Needed

The Chapter 24 2020 meeting schedule is available here. Is there a topic you would like to see covered at one of our local Chapter 24 meetings? Or, better yet, is there a topic that you are qualified to speak on at an upcoming meeting? Please forward any ideas to Britny Williams or to one of the Chapter 24 officers for consideration. There are several open dates available.

Amateur Radio News
Compiled by Tom Weeden, WJ9H

FCC Formally Adopts Proposals to Remove Amateur 3 GHz Band, Invites Comments
The FCC's plan to remove "existing non-federal secondary radiolocation and amateur allocations" in the 3.3 - 3.55 GHz band and relocate incumbent non-federal operations already has begun drawing fire. The Commission formally adopted the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in WT Docket 19-348 on December 12 and invited comments on appropriate "transition mechanisms" to make the spectrum available for mobile and fixed wireless broadband use. ARRL plans to oppose the move. The amateur 9-centimeter allocation is 3.3 - 3.5 GHz.

"By proposing to delete the existing non-federal secondary allocations from the 3.3 - 3.55 GHz band, we are taking an important initial step towards satisfying Congress's directives and making as much as 250 megahertz of spectrum potentially available for advanced wireless services, including 5G," the FCC said in the Introduction to its NPRM.

Some comments arrived before formal adoption of the NPRM, which was circulated ahead of the December meeting. Kevin Milner, KD0MA, the secretary/treasurer of the Ski Country Amateur Radio Club in Colorado, argued that the club's equipment cannot be re-channeled below 3.4 GHz, and the club is seeking relocation costs. Devin Ulibarri, W7ND, told the FCC that amateur networks in the current band cannot move easily into other amateur allocations because there is no readily available commercial equipment to support the bandwidth, the FCC said in a footnote.

With respect to amateur operations, the FCC invited comments on whether sufficient amateur spectrum exists in other bands that can support the operations currently conducted at 3.3 - 3.5 GHz. The 3.40 - 3.41 GHz segment is earmarked for amateur satellite communication. The FCC said if non-federal licensees are relocated to the 3.1 - 3.3 GHz band, it proposes to have them continue to operate on a secondary basis to federal operations, consistent with current band allocations.

Also at its December 12 meeting, the FCC considered another NPRM in WT Docket 19-138 that would "take a fresh and comprehensive look" at the rules for the 5.9 GHz band and propose, among other things, to make the lower 45 MHz of the band available for unlicensed operations and to permit "cellular vehicle-to-everything" (C-V2X) operations in the upper 20 MHz of the band. The FCC is not proposing to delete or otherwise amend the 5-centimeter amateur 5.650 - 5.925 GHz allocation, which would continue as secondary. The NPRM, if approved, would address the top 75 MHz of that amateur secondary band. Although no changes are proposed to the amateur allocation, an anticipated increase in primary use could restrict secondary amateur use.

The Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN) has offered its voice in challenging the FCC proposals on both 9 and 5 centimeters, saying their adoption would "eliminate our use of the most-effective resource hams have to build its networks."

"The AREDN Project is able to leverage low-cost commercial devices solely because they are designed to operate on adjacent allocations," AREDN said on its website. "Moving to other allocations would be difficult if not impossible without a complete redesign, manufacture, purchase, and installation of new custom amateur hardware and software...raising the price out of reach for the typical ham."

FCC Amending Amateur Radio RF Exposure Safety Rules
The FCC is amending its Part 97 Amateur Service rules relating to RF exposure safety. In a lengthy document in ET Docket 19-226 released on December 4 and addressing a broad range of RF safety issues, the FCC said current amateur radio RF exposure safety limits will remain unchanged, but that the amateur-specific exemption from having to conduct an RF exposure evaluation will be replaced by the FCC's general exemption criteria. Radio amateurs have always had to comply with RF exposure limits, but certain stations have been exempt from having to conduct evaluations based only upon power and frequency. The Commission indicated that, by and large, if an RF source was "categorically excluded" from routine evaluation under the old rules, it will most likely still be exempt under the new rules, which are expected to take effect in the next couple of months.

"For applicants and licensees in the Amateur Radio Service, we substitute our general exemption criteria for the specific exemption from routine evaluation based on power alone in Section 97.13(c)(1) and specify the use of occupational/controlled limits for amateurs where appropriate," the FCC said.

"The sky is not falling here," ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, commented. "The major aspects of the rules will not impose major new burdens on the Amateur Radio Service. As in all regulatory matters, though, the devil may be in the details, so the ARRL technical staff, legal staff, and the experts on the ARRL RF Safety Committee are carefully evaluating this FCC document."

Under the revised Section 97.13(c)(1), "In lieu of evaluation with the general population/uncontrolled exposure limits, amateur licensees may evaluate their operation with respect to members of his or her immediate household using the occupational/controlled exposure limits in Section 1.1310, provided appropriate training and information has been accessed by the amateur licensee and members of his/her household," the amended rule says.

"RF exposure of other nearby persons who are not members of the amateur licensee's household must be evaluated with respect to the general population/uncontrolled exposure limits. Appropriate methodologies and guidance for evaluating Amateur Radio Service operation is described in the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) Bulletin 65, Supplement B," the revised rule concludes.

The FCC did not single out amateur radio in drafting its latest RF exposure rules. The rules affect multiple services, and exemptions for many other services were also deleted as part of a broader policy driven by a proliferation of RF devices, some resulting in situations where gain antennas are sited much closer to people than was expected in 1996 when the rules were last revised.

(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League's web site)

compiled by Tom Smith

Kidvid Deadline Delayed
On December 30, 2019, the FCC issued a notice (DA-19-1319A1) that delayed the deadline for filing the first filing of the yearly Children's Television report until March 30, 2020 from its original January 30th deadline. The delay which is due to the rule for the new Children's Report does not become effective until January 21st and the delay allows for time for station personel to become familiar with the process. There will be a webinar on January 23rd at 1:30 PM EST to explain the new form.

Franken FM's Reviewed
On December 4, 2019, the FCC issued a request for comments (DA-19-1231A1) on allowing low-power TV stations to continue to provide the so-called Franken FM services when they make the required transition to digital operation. A Franken FM station is a LPTV station that promotes and programs their audio carrier of 87.76 MHz as an FM station. The audio carrier is just below the lowest FM channel of 88.1 MHz and can be received on most FM receivers. The name Franken is a reference from the story of Frankenstein. The operators of these stations would like to add an analog FM subcarrier to their digital transmission to continue FM programming. The FCC is asking for comment on allowing the analog transmission to continue as an ancillary service subject to the 5% fee to the FCC like that for ancillary digital services that a TV station may transmit for a subscriber fee. The notice also asks if the proposed operation of the analog carrier be limited to existing operations and if there should be any other limitations. On December 23rd, the FCC announced (DA-19-1321A1) a deadline for comments of January 22, 2020 and for replies of February 6th.

Ownership Rules Reinstated
Due to an action by the Third Circuit of the Federal Court of Appeals that vacated the FCC's updated ownership rules that had repealed limits on broadcast/newspaper co-ownership along with many ownership limits concerning TV duopolies and station ownership, the FCC has reinstated the previous ownership rules (DA-19-1303A1) adopted in 2016.

The following ownership rules were reinstated:
  • Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule
  • Radio/Television Cross-Ownership Rule
  • Local Television Ownership Rule
  • Local Radio Ownership Rule
  • Television Joint Sales Agreement Attribution Rule
  • The FCC also is requiring any application for station renewal (DA-19-1304A1) to report if they are in violation of the reinstated ownership rules and stations applying for transfer of ownership (DA-19-1305A1) must verify the they are in compliance with the reinstated ownership rules.

    Non-Profit FM Rules Eased
    On December 11,2019, the FCC eased a number of rules concerning non-commercial educational FM stations including LPFM stations. The rules (FCC-19-127A1) that the FCC are easing concern application procedures and requirements.

    For LPFM stations, the FCC is changing the allowed time to construct a new station from 18 months to 36 months. Currently a LPFM permittee can ask for an additional 18 months extension after the 18 month construction period if justified due to funding or certain construction issues. Extension can be granted for unusual delays beyond the 36 month construction period. The Commission is also allowing multiple LPFM applicants that are seeking the same FM frequency to negotiate time sharing agreements earlier in the application and grant process. Sales of LPFM stations will now be allowed to occur 18 months after the grant of a construction permit which is a decrease from the current three year holding requirement. Sales are limited to the actual costs incurred by the seller.

    For all non-commercial FM stations including LPFM stations, the change of any members of the board of directors of a station will now be a minor ownership change in most cases for community stations and for all government owned stations. The FCC will require sudden changes of the majority of a board for a community non-commercial station as a major ownership change as in some cases, a large shift in board membership may be due to a hostile takeover of the license. The FCC retained rules limiting the ability of persons who had previously been involved in pirate stations and other violations from applying for a LPFM license including amendments to an application to remove that person from the ownership or board of a new LPFM station.

    The notice also eliminated some paperwork for full power non-commercial stations concerning ownership of other stations by the applicant. Most of the paperwork pertains to information already on file. New broadcast applicants are given preference in the application process in many cases over existing owners of stations as a form of promoting diversity of programming. New non-commercial FM stations that were granted their licenses under comparative hearings will have to maintain operation of the station for four years as promised in their applications.

    For new station applicants, some of these rule changes will need an attorney's interruption.

    Certification and Education
    compiled by Jim Hermanson

    The Open 2020 Exam Schedule
    Exam Dates Location Application Deadline
    (to SBE National Office)
    April 21, 2020 NAB Show in Las Vegas March 9, 2020
    June 5-15, 2020 Local Chapters (Madison Area) April 17, 2020
    August 7-17, 2020 Local Chapters (Madison Area) June 12, 2020
    November 6-16, 2020 Local Chapters (Madison Area) September 21, 2020

    What certifications am I eligible for? Click here

    Each year, account balance permitting, Chapter 24 will reimburse half the application fee to any member of Chapter 24 in good standing who successfully obtains any SBE certification level not previously held by that member. Contact the SBE Chapter 24 chairperson or certification chairperson for more information.

    Ready to Take an Exam?
    When you are ready to take an SBE exam, note the open exam schedule, complete the appropriate application (found here... and send it directly to the SBE National office (see address below) with the respective fee. You will be notified once your application is approved. Your local certification chairman will receive a list of applicants and exams in his/her chapter and arrange for a proctor. He/she will then contact applicants to schedule a mutually agreeable date, time, and place for the exam(s) within the respective exam date window. This must be coordinated before the exam will be sent by SBE National. Completed exam(s) will be mailed back to SBE National for grading. Pass/fail results will be mailed directly to the applicants within approximately six weeks.

    You may mail, email or fax your applications to:

    Megan E. Clappe
    Certification Director
    9102 N. Meridian St.
    Suite 150
    Indianapolis, IN 46260

    317-846-9120 Fax
    Ready to Recertify?
    When you are ready to recertify, see the following page for forms and information.

    Videos, Upcoming Webinars, and Education
    Tons of state-of-the-art radio, TV, multimedia, and IT engineering training is available through this page...

    More information on SBE Education Programs is available here...

    Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE), its officers, or its members. SBE Chapter 24, Inc. regrets, but is not liable for, any omissions or errors. Articles of interest to Chapter 24 members are accepted up to the close of business the 1st day of each month. Send your article to