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May 10 Seems a ‘Go’ for FM IBOC Power Hike

Some hurdles remain, however ...

Is May 10 the day stations can implement their FM IBOC power increase without first applying for an STA from the commission? Theoretically, yes.

Of some debate among engineers at this show is the recent Federal Register publication of the FCC’s order allowing most FMs to effect a 6 dB digital power increase within 30 days, which would be May 10. The order also establishes application procedures for those stations that are eligible to implement the full 10 dB increase.

Federal Register publication on April 8 triggered a window in which those who oppose the increase can ask the commissioners themselves to review the Media Bureau order allowing the increase. The agency recently dismissed two such requests, saying they were filed too soon.

One of those petitioners, Jonathan E. Hardis, has re-filed for review, saying the bureau exceeded its authority and that the decision was premature. Other groups may now come out of the woodwork and protest the decision.

If such requests don’t result in the order being overturned, that’s one hurdle overcome for those stations wanting to implement the power increase. It would also make transmission gear companies happy; the less regulatory paperwork their customers have to file to accomplish the better, they believe.

Aside from possible protests, the other wrinkle to getting the increase accomplished without an STA is a publication requirement the Office of Management and Budget has to fulfill; a legal eagle from one of the big broadcast groups told his clients, “OMB approval is still pending on the procedures by which stations will inform the commission they have increased power to –14 dBc and request to increase to –10 dBc. Until that approval is granted, stations will need to continue to request an STA to increase power. Our experience has been that the FCC is readily granting such requests.”