FCC proposal to end Channel 6 protections draws conflicting responses from NPR, KKJZ

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NPR and a California jazz station are at odds over an FCC proposal to retire rules requiring FM stations to protect Channel 6 TV stations from interference.

The FCC rules, which have been in effect since 1985, were enacted to prevent radio stations from causing interference with Channel 6 stations, which are adjacent to the noncommercial radio band. In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC said it tentatively accepts the results of studies NPR conducted from 2007–08 that found “digital television receivers including digital-to-analog converter boxes are substantially less vulnerable to FM-induced TV6 interference than analog sets.”

The FCC said it is seeking comment about whether the studies’ conclusions are still valid.

NPR again vouched for the studies in its comments filed this month. “As the Commission previously acknowledged when the current rules were adopted, NCE-FM induced TV6 interference was widely recognized as a problem in the design of analog television receivers then in use,” NPR said.

But the California State University, Long Beach Research Foundation, licensee of jazz and blues station KKJZ, filed a comment this month asking the FCC not to change the rule. The university argued that the proposal does not take into account possible interference caused to FM stations by Channel 6 stations.

The licensee said that the NPR studies cited by the FCC “do not … show that interference is eliminated; indeed, interference remains and can still be substantial at the lower end of the noncommercial FM radio band.”

The university said it acknowledges that interference will become less likely if analog TVs are no longer being used. 

“But whatever degree of immunity digital TV receivers may or may not have from interference from adjacent-channel FM stations, it is not the case that FM radio receivers are equally immune from interference from digital TV signals,” the university argued. 

The window for comments in the proceeding closed Oct. 21. Reply comments will be accepted until Nov. 4

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