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What Does the Frequency Coordinator Do at Conventions?

Louis Libin will once again serve in the position for the political conventions and 2017 inauguration

Louis Libin, New York City region frequency coordinator, has been tapped for a second term as the designated Auxiliary Broadcast Frequency Coordinator for both of the upcoming national political conventions as well as this winter’s presidential inauguration, the Federal Communications Commission announced last week. Libin, who works full-time as executive director for the Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance, returns to the role after performing those duties in 2012–13.

Louis Libin

ElectionWireless2017, an ad hoc frequency coordination group established by the broadcast networks, had requested that Libin be designated as the special frequency coordinator and RF spectrum manager for the 2016 Republican and Democratic National Conventions and 2017 Presidential Inauguration, the FCC said. The domestic broadcasters involved, as well as both political parties, approved of his appointment.

What exactly does the role entail? Radio World asked an FCC source to learn more about that:

Q:What are the main responsibilities of the Auxiliary Broadcast Frequency Coordinator?
A: Broadcast Auxiliary Service stations make it possible for television and radio stations and networks to transmit program material from the sites of breaking news stories or other live events to television studios for inclusion in broadcast program, to transmit programming material from studios to broadcasting transmitters for delivery to consumers’ televisions and radios, and to transmit programs between broadcast stations. In the context of national conventions, the job of the frequency coordinator is to manage frequency assignments and usage within these broadcast auxiliary frequencies and coordinate between different types of equipment, operation requirements and geographical location.

Q: Is this position appointed specifically for the national conventions/inauguration? If so, what about those events requires this special assignment?
A: Yes. Political conventions and inaugurations attract extensive broadcast coverage, and consequently require extensive use of wireless equipment. Broadcast networks and other major content distributors require major wireless communications infrastructures, along with spectrum, to support their video and audio transport. For these events of major public importance, there is no one broadcaster who holds rights to control spectrum.

In connection with major events such as the 2013 presidential inauguration and the 2012 national political conventions, the commission designated auxiliary broadcast frequency coordinators and required prior coordination of all BAS operations. These actions were taken as a result of our concern that uncoordinated use of auxiliary broadcast stations on a special temporary authority basis might result in spectrum congestion and excessive interference, resulting in less complete broadcast coverage. We believe that the potential for a similar situation exists during the 2016 national political conventions and the 2017 presidential inauguration.

Q: What should radio and TV engineers and technical managers do to make this process as efficient as possible?
A: Radio and TV engineers should contact and submit coordination requests to the frequency coordinator, Louis Lubin, as soon as possible. [To do so, call or fax 516-374-6700 or email [email protected].]

The FCC also said that frequency coordination is limited to BAS allotted frequencies.

It also stated that “the potential use of unlicensed next-generation white space devices operating in the TV bands may present a new challenge for spectrum management at these events.” It reminded wireless mic licensees to register their operations with one of the approved white space databases to ensure protected operation.

Read the FCC public notice here for more.

The events kick off with the Republican National Convention on July 18 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, then the Democratic National Convention begins July 25 at the Wells Fargo Center and Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia. The presidential inauguration is Jan. 20.

Broadcast attorney Harry Cole provides more about this process in a post on the blog of law firm Fletcher Heald & Hildreth. You can also read more about frequency coordination operations in the FCC rules.