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Some NCEs Betting on TV Channel 6 Protections Going Away?

Will radio still need to protect TV Channel 6 after February 2009?

Will radio still need to protect TV Channel 6 after February 2009?

Of the 3,600 or so filings the FCC received in its NCE applications window, several seem to believe the answer is no.

The protections for TV Channel 6 go up to 91.9 MHz, something NCEs have chafed under for 40+ years. “They gave away the farm,” said one engineer of the FCC rule back then.

NPR has long sought to free up that spectrum for radio and now John Mullaney of Mullaney Engineering has filed a proposal to do so, saying re-purposing the 82–88 MHz spectrum for Channel 6 (as well as 76 to 82 MHz for Channel 5) would ease overcrowded conditions on the lower part of the FM band.

Only eight TV stations are requesting Channel 6 when they go digital, according to him. Digital TV operation on Channel 6 can cause interference to FM, said one engineer.

This source told me that based on his experience combing through information available from the recent NCE applications filed — engineering attachments are apparently not available yet — through CDBS, it appears several are applying for lower-power stations now, betting that protection for TV Channel 6 goes away, with the unspoken intent of applying for a power increase later.

He’s basing that belief on the lack of Channel 6 protections spelled out in some applications.

The settlement window offered last week by the FCC is particularly irksome, said this source, because “in the meantime, we’re encouraged to negotiate with defective filers as the FCC cannot possibly comb through and do real engineering analysis on all those applications.”

The upshot: those with legitimate applications have to spend more money on allocation studies which could cost “tens of thousands of dollars” depending on how deep you get into it and how many you’re having done, said this peeved engineer.

“It’s a sick technique.”