FCC Defers Decision on Dropping Ch. 6 Distance Separations

TV broadcasters on channel 6 can breathe a a little easier, at least temporarily. The FCC has decided to defer a decision on scrapping its rules requiring low-power FMs and noncommercial educational (NCE) FMs to protect TV channel 6 from interference.

The FCC had proposed doing so as part of an FM radio rule update approved this week, but decided to hold off.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking the FCC had teed up for a vote proposed to eliminate the TV channel 6 distance-separation rules for LPFMs, NCEs and FM translators after the LPTV digital transition and, in the interim, to allow them to seek waivers of those distance separations.

But the FCC is also seeking comment on the use of channel 6 for analog audio services after the DTV transition and said that could have implications for the protection requirements.

The FCC said after it has collected that comment it will be in a better position to decide about lifting the distancing separations, so will not lift the distancing rules but will allow for the case-by-case waiver process.

Broadcasters had asked that those waiver applicants be required to serve notice on stations, which the FCC agreed to require.

But given that the FCC is still proposing to lift the distancing requirement eventually, it said it would exempt reserved band LPFMs and Class D stations from the ch. 6 protections if the stations involved agreed.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.