Thursday, May 31, 2007

FCC releases IBOC rules

The FCC has released the permanent IBOC rules.

Read the original FCC document on these links:

  • Microsoft Word

  • Adobe Acrobat

  • Text

  • 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, IBOC digital radio ("HD Radio") will cease to be something authorized through Special Temporary Authority and become a normal part of American radio. The biggest difference listeners (and especially DXers) will notice is that AM stations will be allowed to operate their HD signals at night.

    The highlights, as the Commission puts them:

  • Refrains from imposing a mandatory conversion schedule for radio stations to commence digital broadcast operations;

  • Allows FM radio stations to operate in the extended hybrid digital mode;

  • Requires that each local radio station broadcasting in digital mode provide a free over-the-air digital signal at least comparable in audio quality to its analog signal;

  • Continues to require that the main digital broadcast stream simulcast the material aired on the analog signal;

  • Adopts a flexible bandwidth policy permitting a radio station to transmit high quality audio, multiple program streams, and datacasting services at its discretion;

  • Allows radio stations to time broker unused digital bandwidth to third parties, subject to certain regulatory requirements;

  • Applies existing programming and operational statutory and regulatory requirements to all free DAB programming streams, but defers the issue of whether and how to apply any specific new public interest requirements;

  • Authorizes AM nighttime operations and FM dual antenna configurations;

  • Considers and addresses other technical matters, such as FM translator and booster operations and TV Channel 6 interference issues;

  • Defers discussion of whether the Commission should impose content control requirements that would prevent listeners from archiving and redistributing digital musical recordings transmitted by digital broadcast stations;

  • Recognizes that further negotiations between the United States and the international community are taking place to resolve possible disputes about the implementation and operation of DAB by domestic radio stations;

  • Dismisses several pending Petitions for Reconsideration and Petitions for Rulemaking that asked, inter alia, the Commission to reconsider the adoption of iBiquity’s IBOC system as the technology chosen for DAB transmission;

  • Seeks further comment on appropriate limits to the amount of subscription services that may be offered by radio stations.

  • A few notes of my own:

  • The FCC mentions authority for "extended hybrid mode" on FM stations. This mode adds more digital capacity by adding digital carriers. However, these carriers fall between the digital carriers authorized in "normal" hybrid mode, and the station's analog signal. So if extended hybrid mode is going to cause interference (and it might), the interference will be to the station's own analog signal, not to other stations'.

  • LPFM and translator stations will be allowed to adopt IBOC. It's stated that IBOC operation may not be practical for LP10 (10-watt LPFM) stations.

  • Legal ID announcements will be required on all program streams, and digital multicast streams must be identified as such. "WZMF-2 Menomonee Falls" may not be legal - "WZMF Digital HD2 Menomonee Falls" might be. A "text ID" using the Program Associated Data may be adequate.

  • AM stations that have already notified the FCC of their daytime use of IBOC need not perform further notification to begin nighttime operation.

  • Comments were filed in an attempt to get the FCC to limit the IBOC power of "superpower" FM stations to what would be authorized to a "normal" station. For example, WOOD-FM in Grand Rapids, Mich. is authorized for 265kw analog power at 177m HAAT. IBOC digital power is regulated as a percentage of analog; in WOOD's case it would be allowed to run 2,650 watts of digital power. If WOOD wasn't grandfathered in at its pre-1964 power, it would be limited to 35,909 watts analog power, or 359 watts digital. The Commission dismissed this attempt; WOOD will get its 2,650 watts of digital power.

  • The U.S. is still in negotiations with Canada and Mexico. (A Canadian engineer and DXer filed comments arguing that IBOC is prohibited under bilateral treaties with both countries.) IBOC permits will contain a clause noting that they may be modified or revoked if international considerations require it.

  • Strangely enough, all of this was accomplished by creating only four new rules (47CFR73.401..73.404) and amending one. (47CFR73.1201, the station identification rule)

  • Going back to the international considerations...

    Canadian commenter Barry McLarnon quotes an article in the US-Canada agreement that states: "
    “Classes of emission other than A3E, for instance to accommodate stereophonic systems, could also be used on condition that the energy level outside the necessary bandwidth does not exceed that normally expected in A3E....”

    McLarnon argues that the IBOC digital carriers extend the station's bandwith to approximately 28KHz, far outside that necessary and normally expected from an A3E (regular analog AM) signal. He also notes that an identical clause exists in the US-Mexico agreement.

    Editorial comment: Barry is 100% right.
    Editorial comment: But since when does the U.S. government listen to any other country when there's money to be made?

    New AM station (not)

    San Luis Obispo, California: 850KHz
    Application for new station dismissed.

    Major AM station changes

    Tucson, Arizona: 1080KHz:
    KGVY requests move from Green Valley.
    1,700 watts daytime only, non-directional

    Grafton, West Virginia: 1190KHz:
    WTBZ requests move from 1260KHz.
    4,500 watts daytime
    22 watts nighttime

    Bluffdale, Utah: 960KHz:
    KOVO granted move from Provo.
    50,000 watts daytime
    940 watts nighttime
    DA-2 (different patterns night & day)

    Friday, May 25, 2007

    New AM station

    Rhinelander, Wisconsin: 640KHz:
    Permit granted for new station.
    620 watts daytime, non-directional
    400 watts nighttime, directional

    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    AM frequency change in Pennsylvania

    Waynesburg, Pennsylvania: 1210KHz:
    WANB has applied to move from 1580.
    5,000 watts daytime only, non-directional.
    (replaces application for 500 watts daytime/17 watts nighttime non-directional on 1190KHz)
    This seems awfully close to Philadelphia's 50,000-watt WPHT on the same frequency.

    AM call changes

    Saraland, Alabama: 770KHz: WHOA for new station
    Sahuarita, Arizona: 1210KHz: KQTL => KEVT
    Jacksonville Beach, Florida: 1010KHz: WIOJ => WJXL
    Lafayette, Indiana: 1410KHz: WLAS => WSHY
    Greensburg, Kentucky: 1540KHz: WAKY => WGRK
    Orono, Maine: 1530KHz: WFGO for new station
    Frederick, Maryland: 820KHz: WTOP => WTWT
    Pocomoke City, Maryland: 1070KHz: WBEY for new station
    Kingsley, Michigan: 1210KHz: WLDR => WJNL
    Petoskey, Michigan: 750KHz: WWKK => WLDR
    Lima, Ohio: 940KHz: WLJM => WZOQ
    Allentown, Pennsylvania: 1470KHz: WSAN => WYHM
    Braddock, Pennsylvania: 1550KHz: WURP => WLFP
    Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:1450KHz: WQJM => WRNN
    Pleasanton, Texas: 1380KHz: KAJG => KWMF
    Rural Retreat, Virginia: 660KHz: WCRR => WJRK
    South Boston, Virginia: 1400KHz: WAJL for new station

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

    Major AM station change

    Carlsbad, Texas: 1590KHz:
    KEAS requests move from Eastland & power increase to 1kw (daytime only, non-directional)
    This is a move of 191km/118mi. to the southwest.

    Tuesday, May 22, 2007

    WLS-890 (temporary) format change

    WLS-890 Chicago will be reverting to its rock-n-roll roots on Memorial Day.

    WABC-770 New York has had successful annual "retro" days; now it's Chicago's turn to try. Should be interesting.

    Major AM station change

    Shenandoah, Texas: 1380KHz:
    KRCM granted move from Beaumont, a move of approximately 75 miles due west towards Houston.
    250 watts daytime
    69 watts nighttime
    non-directional at 30-11-42N/95-23-25W

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    New AM station

    Petal, Mississippi: 1520KHz:
    Application filed for new station.
    50,000 watts daytime
    20,000 watts critical hours
    700 watts nighttime
    DA-3 (3 different patterns)

    (Petal is near Jackson)

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Major AM station changes

    Roanoke, Va.: 1290KHz:
    WOWZ granted move here from Appomattox and frequency change from 1280KHz.
    Power to increase to 10,000 watts (day) and add 17 watts night.
    Non-directional: single tower at 37-16-06N/79-54-46W.

    Revere, Mass.: 950KHz:
    WROL's application to move from Boston and increase night power to 5,000 watts directional dismissed at request of applicant.

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    AM frequency changes

    Tuba City, Arizona: 760KHz:
    KTBA has moved from 1050 to 760.
    Daytime power has been reduced to 250 watts, while nighttime power has increased to 60 watts. The transmitter site is unchanged.

    Victoria, Virginia: 650KHz:
    WHAN has been granted a move from 1430KHz in Ashland, Va.
    Daytime power will increase to 50,000 watts, directional.
    However, there will be no nighttime operation on the new frequency.
    The transmitter is moving to 37-22-27N/78-00-45W.

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    New AM stations

    Bishop, California: 1490KHz:
    Application filed for new station.
    1,000 watts fulltime, non-directional

    Agana, Guam: 1017KHz:
    Application filed for new station.
    250 watts fulltime, non-directional
    (this frequency is correct. Guam is in ITU Zone 3 where AM stations operate on 9KHz channels, not 10KHz.) (the East longitude is also correct.)

    Houghton, Michigan: 1340KHz:
    Permit granted for new station.
    1,000 watts day; 720 watts night, non-directional.

    Bemidji, Minnesota: 1400KHz:
    Permit granted for new station.
    1,000 watts fulltime, non-directional

    AM station major change request

    Sanger, California: 1370KHz:
    KGEN has applied to move from Tulare.
    3,800 watts daytime
    102 watts nighttime
    Directional daytime only. (unusual for a station to be directional daytime but not at night!)
    (slightly different coordinates of 36-39-37N/119-41-01W are specified for the nighttime operation but I'm pretty sure both sets refer to the same antenna system.)

    New AM stations

    Kenai, Alaska: 840KHz:
    An application has been filed for a new station.
    10,000 watts daytime, 1,900 watts nighttime, non-directional.

    Hilo, Hawaii: 1450KHz:
    An application has been filed for a new station.
    5,000 watts fulltime, DA-2 (different patterns day & night)
    If granted, this would be the only U.S. station on 1450 with more than 1,000 watts power and the only one directional at night. Higher powers and directional antennas are not normally permitted on these "graveyard" frequencies.

    Hawthorne, Nevada: 1490KHz:
    A permit has been granted for a new station.
    790 watts fulltime, non-directional

    Kerrville, Texas: 1590KHz:
    An application has been filed for a new station.
    920 watts daytime, non-directional
    250 watts nighttime, directional

    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    Call change in expanded band

    Kalamazoo, Michigan: 1660KHz:
    WQSN has changed call letters to WQLR.

    (presumably to save the WQLR calls for use elsewhere in a co-owned chain; the sister FM station that used to be WQLR has changed calls to WVFM)

    Call letters assigned for new AM stations

    Hampden, Maine: 750KHz: WRME
    Pocomoke City, Maryland: 1070KHz: WBEY
    South Boston, Virginia: 1400KHz: WAJL

    Friday, May 04, 2007

    AM major change dismissed

    Capleville, Tennessee: 1180KHz:
    WPLX's application to:
    - Move from Germantown
    - Move from 1170KHz
    - Change power to 5,000 watts daytime/26 watts nighttime/2,800 watts critical hours
    - DA-3 (different patterns day, night, and critical hours),
    - 35-08-31/90-08-06

    has been dismissed.

    The station has received a separate permit to make all the technical changes, but to keep Germantown as its city of license.

    New AM stations (not)

    Steamboat Springs, Colorado: 1340KHz:
    McNary, Texas: 1260KHz:
    Applications for new stations dismissed.

    New AM stations

    Gibsonia, Florida: 700KHz:
    Permit granted for new station.
    2,500 watts daytime
    250 watts nighttime
    DA-2 (different patterns day & night)

    Bemidji, Minnesota: 1300KHz:
    Permit granted for new station.
    2,500 watts daytime
    600 watts nighttime
    DA-2 (different patterns day & night)

    Leone, American Samoa: 900KHz:
    Permit granted for new station.
    5,000 watts daytime
    3,000 watts nighttime

    Garapan, Saipan: 1440KHz:
    Permit granted for new station.
    3,000 watts daytime
    500 watts nighttime