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FCC to Consider New RF Exposure Regs

Will signage reforms affect broadcasters?

The FCC recently issued a Report and Order that modifies certain FCC RF regulations, notably those regarding compliance for portable and mobile devices such as wireless phones and Bluetooth devices. Not particularly germane to broadcasters.

However, NAB’s JUne 17, Radio TechCheck notes there is some fine print that might affect broadcasters — RF exposure hazard signage. As part of the R&O issuance, the FCC also issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making and a Notice of Inquiry, asking for comments.

The TechCheck says: “The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the Notice of Inquiry parts of the document contain proposals that may have impact on how broadcasters demonstrate compliance with the FCC’s RF exposure regulations.” It explains, “There are two issues that are of particular concern for broadcasters: a change in the warning sign requirements and clarification of the concept of ‘transient exposure.’”

According to TechCheck, “The FCC has, over the years, found inconsistent signage at various fixed transmitting facilities. In order to provide clear guidance on how licenses should restrict access to areas near fixed transmitter facilities, the FCC now proposes to require a detailed multi-level signage program that is based on the environmental categories and guidance provided in IEEE Standard C95.7-2005.”

For broadcasters it could represent a change: “While this type of type of signage program has become common place in the industry, it has never been ‘required’ by the FCC before and may require stations to re-evaluate the RF environments around their transmitter facilities in order to access the impact of this proposed new requirement.”

Concerning the “transient exposure” question, the FCC is looking at building in a “time averaging metric” for passersby at a transmission site. “Stations may need to assess the environment around their transmitter site in order to understand the impact of this proposed rule change,” TechCheck says.

TechCheck also points out that the Notice of Inquiry requests information on “how to protect the public from injury due to contact currents,” adding, “The NOI stated that contact currents can be a safety issue in the vicinity of AM broadcast facilities.” Questions forming are what are reasonable public warnings; do owners/operators of AM transmission facilities have maps, accurate maps, of where dangerous electrical field are located; who is responsible and what is the cost/benefit analysis?

Finally, TechCheck lays out that at a time of a “changing nature of RF devices and their uses,” the FCC has “initiated a new proceeding to determine whether there is a need for reassessment of the commission overall RF exposure limits and policies.”