FCC offers guidance for powering up FM HD operation


In the interests of encouraging the adoption and effectiveness of HD radio, the FCC is permitting stations to add up to 10% of ERP to their operational parameter on a voluntary basis. The policy has been effective as of 5/10/10. The FCC has offered further information on how to take advantage.

The main thing to know is that the electronic form which will eventually be used to inform the FCC that a power increase has been put in place is not yet approved by the Office of Management and Budget. The FCC is therefore in the rare position of requiring paper notification, sent via regular mail, to make sure it has accurate information on how the station is operating.

Notification must go to:

Digital Radio Notification

445 12th Street SW, Room 2-B450

Washington, DC 20554

The information required in the letter of notification is as follows:

* The date that operation with increased digital power commenced;

* A certification that, except for the digital ERP, the IBOC facilities conform to the iBiquity specifications;

* The name and telephone number of a technical representative the Commission can call in the event of interference;

* Analog, digital and, if applicable, combined transmitter power output;

* Analog and digital ERP; and

* A certification that the notified operation will not cause human exposure to levels of radio-frequency radiation in excess of the limits in Section 1.1310 of the FCC Rules and is therefore categorically excluded from environmental processing pursuant to Section 1.1306(b) of the Commission’s Rules. Any station that cannot so certify must submit an environmental assessment (“EA”) pursuant to Section 1.1311 and may not commence operation until such EA is ruled on by the Commission.

* Stations which have been granted STAs for operation with increased digital ERP are deemed to have complied with the required notification procedures. All such STAs carry expiration dates after the May 10, 2010, effective date of the Order, and thus, need not be extended.

The FCC notes that electronic filing will still be required once it the form as been approved.

There are two other special categories:

Requests for operation with digital power in excess of -14 dBc, or operation in excess of 20 dBc by super-powered FM stations: Such requests must be filed electronically in CDBS. Applicants should use the “Engineering STA” form for this purpose and should check the boxes marked “Licensed antenna” and “with other variance.” An explanation of the nature of the request should be included as a narrative attachment. The request must include an engineering showing in support of the request, as described Paragraphs 15 – 20 of the Order. A filing fee of $170.00 is required for this filing.  If the request is granted, the letter authorization will not carry an expiration date but will be associated with the station license as a secondary authorization.  As such, it may be suspended, modified or cancelled by the FCC without notice or right to hearing.

Licensing of auxiliary antennas: Some licensees use auxiliary antennas to transmit digital signals.  If the digital ERP permitted by the Order would exceed the licensed analog ERP of such an auxiliary antenna, a licensee must file an application for construction permit (Form 301 or 340) to increase power and file a covering license application (Form 302-FM) prior to commencing operations at the higher power level.