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Capital Watch

NAB Slams LPFM study

The NAB last week took aim at an FCC study showing that more low-power stations could be added to the FM band without causing undue interference to existing broadcasters.

The trade organization said the study should be "rejected out of hand," branding it "fraught with major technical flaws, including site selection, frequency selection ... and testing methodology" that invalidated "any
[emphasis NAB's] recommendation regarding the feasibility of relaxing third-adjacent-channel spacing requirements for LPFM stations."

Restrictions barring LPFM stations from operating on third-adjacent channels from full-power stations are not necessary, concluded a Mitre Corp. report. It found that LPFMs can be operated on third-adjacent channels if "relatively modest" geographic separation—from a few tens of meters to slightly more than a kilometer—is maintained. Congress imposed the restrictions in 2000, citing conflicting data, but required the FCC to conduct the study.

The FCC has suggested that adding those LPFM stations, per the study's apparent green light, could be one way of increasing diversity in media ownership.

Split Decision

Broadcasters won one and lost one last week in the ongoing cable-carriage tug-of-war. The winner was Telefutura's WAMI-TV Hollywood, Fla. The FCC granted its petition for carriage on Adelphia's cable system serving Boca Raton, Boca West, and Delray Beach, all Florida.

In 1999, the FCC had ordered the cable company to carry the station, which it had done until March of this year, when it dropped it without explanation. The FCC has ordered Adelphia, which did not oppose the petition, to reinstate the station within 30 days and to explain why it dropped it.

On the losing side, Time Warner will not have to carry Sunbelt's KHIZ(TV) Barstow, Calif., on various Los Angeles systems. The commission points out that the station had no history of carriage on those systems and had conceded its grade B signal did not reach the system's subs. Another carriage requirement is "coverage or other local service to the community." KHIZ offered finance show Money Matters
and weekend horror movie The Macabre Theatre
as examples, plus a community calendar and promises of more local programming. The FCC was unpersuaded.

FTC Says Cut Abs Ads

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against marketer Telebrands Corp./TV Savings for TV and radio ads for its "Ab Force electronic muscle stimulation (EMS) belt." Saying the claims are false, the FTC told the companies not to represent that the device promotes weight loss or fat reduction or reduces waistlines or that it is an effective alternative to exercise. Also out are claims for rock-hard abs, washboard abs, chiseled abs, cut abs, well-developed abs or "any other terms with substantially similar meaning."

The FTC began cracking down on a number of EMS-device marketers in May 2002 as part of its Project ABSurd.

Powell Pushes To Auction Spectrum

FCC Chairman Michael Powell has written a letter to House Commerce Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) opposing the provision in a spending bill requiring the FCC to provide free spectrum for a new terrestrial pay-TV service, most likely that proposed by Northpoint.

In April 2002, the FCC decided to open up the DBS spectrum to competing terrestrial service but concluded that those competitors should have to bid for the spectrum. The FCC planned to address the DBS spectrum issue at its meeting last week but pulled the item from the agenda. "I do not believe that limiting the commission's ability to auction this spectrum, limiting the value the public would reap from such a licensing scheme, or limiting competition and innovation is the best policy for the American people," Powell wrote Wolf.