In an exchange with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, public television’s top lobbyist sought to dial back expectations for channel-sharing pilot tests involving KLCS-TV in Los Angeles. Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, responded to a blog post in which Wheeler enthusiastically described the experiment as mapping a “future” of broadcasting in which TV stations use “50 percent less bandwidth to produce a picture with increased quality of up to 300 percent.” “We appreciate Chairman Wheeler’s enthusiasm about the channel-sharing pilot in Los Angeles, and we were honored to have him visit public television station KLCS, where the pilot is being conducted,” Butler wrote in a Feb. 12 statement issued by APTS. “But we should be clear that this pilot is not intended to prove that all broadcasters can get by with half the spectrum they’re currently using.
The FCC is giving interested parties another 30 days to weigh in on comments already made regarding proposed rule changes that would benefit AM radio stations. For the first time since 1987, the FCC is taking a comprehensive look at AM radio to review possible policy changes. A window for filing comments closed Jan. 24, and the deadline for responses to those comments was set to close Feb. 18.
NPR has asked the FCC to consider reimbursing broadcasters for the costs of any antenna relocations that may result from the upcoming auction of television broadcast spectrum. In a Nov. 4 comment filed with the commission, NPR pointed out that spectrum repacking may require broadcasters to upgrade towers, which in turn could temporarily dislocate radio antennas. “To avoid undue hardship to NCE and other radio stations as a result of the television spectrum reassignment, NPR urges the Commission to construe its statutory authority broadly and flexibly to assure cost reimbursement in all compelling cases such as these,” the network wrote. NPR can’t predict the costs or number of dislocations that may occur as a result of the auction, which is slated for next year, said Mike Riksen, v.p. for policy and representation.
The FCC has set a new deadline for applicants seeking licenses for low-power FM stations, agreeing to keep its filing window open until 6 p.m. Nov. 14. After the federal government resumed operations last week, several organizations that assist low-power FM radio stations appealed to the commission to extend its window for accepting LPFM applications. They sought to adjust the time frame to accommodate aspiring licensees who had been hindered in preparing their applications by the government shutdown. The FCC initially planned to accept LPFM applications Oct.
As the FCC prepares to reshuffle the layout of the nation’s television spectrum for the repacking process, public broadcasters are girding for some difficult choices as they consider how to navigate a complex and potentially expensive transition.
The FCC has affirmed its criteria for awarding broadcast licenses to noncommercial applicants, rejecting a complaint by a religious broadcaster that the rules unfairly favor secular broadcasters. In a July 11 decision, the FCC denied the complaint by the Tupelo, Miss.–based American Family Association over competitive applications to establish new stations in Perry, Iowa, and Spokane, Wash. Iowa State University had sought the Perry station, while Spokane Public Radio pursued the Washington signal. The FCC will award construction permits to the two applicants. AFA argued that the FCC should change the way it assesses what are called “attributable” broadcast interests.
NPR is advocating for the Federal Communications Commission to loosen its policies surrounding broadcast decency standards, and retreat from a “zero tolerances” approach to one that only targets “egregious cases.”