Border FM Translator Dispute Settled
     

A complicated engineering situation with a border FM translator has been settled.

The FCC denied a request by Backyard Broadcasting to review a Media Bureau decision to grant minor modifications for construction permits for Colonial Radio Group’s Olean, N.Y., FM translator.

Colonial had specified a 34 dBμ interfering contour for FM translator W230BO that exceeds 60 kilometers (app. 37 miles).

Backyard argued the applications were granted in error, actually violating the “FM Working Arrangement,” between the U.S. and Canada.

The agreement applies to the allotment and assignment of FM channels within 320 kilometers (app. 200 miles) of the U.S-Canadian border. According to Section 4.3, the 34 dBμ interference contour of FM translators may not exceed 60 kilometers.

Backyard contended in 2010 that the commission lacks authority to waive that treaty provision and the Media Bureau exceeded its authority here.

The bureau doesn’t agree, explaining in its decision this week that it has consistently applied the 60-kilometer limitation only where an FM translator station’s proposed 34 dBμ interference contour actually crosses the U.S.-Canada border. So in this situation, the full agency says the bureau complied with the treaty obligations when it approved Colonial’s minor mods.

Commissioner Ajit Pai agrees with the FCC’s final decision, saying the commission and Canada have interpreted the treaty, which dates to the 1990s, the same way for years and “it wouldn’t make sense for the commission to reverse course now.”

After reviewing the record the commission says Backyard hasn’t shown the bureau made a mistake. The full commission upheld the Media Bureau decision and dismissed Backyard’s petition for dismissal.     

 


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