KTWS Wins OK for Upgrade to 50 kW
Despite opponents’ objections,
FM station KTWS “The Twins” in Bend, Ore., can upgrade from Class C3 to Class C1 and
increase power from 5.2 kW to 50 kW. So says the FCC staff.
The case involved neighbor concerns about RF levels near the tower, local “blanketing”
interference and other issues. The ruling offers some insight into how the Media Bureau handles such objections.
Combined Communications Inc., applied to modify facilities of KTWS in late
2008, but the application was protested by Andrew Shooks, James Swarm, Deborah Curl
and Thomas Daniels, at least some of whom are neighbors of the station.
at 98.3 MHz from a tower in the Awbrey Butte antenna farm (the application includes
a frequency move to 98.5). It airs a classic rock format.
The opponents wrote to the commission
with concerns about compliance with RF radiation exposure limits. They also questioned
whether the station had reasonable assurance of site availability and whether
the tower owner had coordinated with tribal and historic preservation officers properly.
Regarding RF exposure, they noted the number of people with
access to the site, including employees of the U.S. Forestry Service and
Deschutes County, as well as adjacent property owners who have easements and
must travel within feet of the guy anchors.
But the FCC
said the site is fenced and the tower is posted with warning signs. It said its
engineers examined the application and predicted that, even worst-case, the station
will not exceed the occupational/controlled exposure limit. And it said the
station volunteered to take measurements after construction and add fencing or signs
as needed. “We will require Combined to take these steps,” the FCC wrote. The commission
staff declined to require a composite modeling study of all radiation sources
on and around the tower.
Two of the opponents said that they also experience “blanketing
interference” from the station, meaning they can’t receive other signals, and they
said the station hasn’t been able to fix it. They worry that the problem will
only get worse. The commission said it can’t tell whether the station failed to
meet its obligations. It decided not to delay approval but told the station to follow
up with one of the neighbors and report back. The commission also reminded KTWS
that it must resolve complaints of blanketing interference during its first
year at higher power.
The commission brushed off concerns
about site availability, saying the opponents had provided no evidence;
regardless, the city of Bend subsequently issued approval for the tower in May
of this year. And the FCC staff dismissed the claim about tribal and historic
sites because the objection paperwork referred to a different tower in the
So KTWS is free to raise power to 50 kW.
Given that RF exposure limits and local interference are
common subjects of discussion in power increase cases, stations interested in
the specific language can read it here.