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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

Report No. MM 98- 7 MASS MEDIA ACTION June 11, 1998

(MM Docket No. 98-93)

The FCC today proposed a series of new, technical rules to expand options for commercial and noncommercial educational FM and FM translator stations to improve existing broadcast services, and to streamline certain AM and FM technical procedures. In addition, the Commission today adopted an Order reflecting minor changes to certain technical rules.

These actions continue the Commission's broad-based initiative to streamline Mass Media Bureau rules and procedures and is a companion to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released April 3, 1998, that proposed to streamline mass media applications, non-technical rules and processes.

In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) adopted today, the Commission proposed changes to the contingent application rule to permit FM stations to undertake interrelated facility modifications. The Commission also asked for comment on whether FM broadcasters seeking to modify their transmission facilities in order to reach additional listeners should be permitted to enter into negotiated interference agreements with other broadcasters. Negotiated interference generally describes agreements between or among stations to accept new or increased interference within their protected service contours, typically in connection with proposals to expand service by one or several stations.

The FCC said the proposals, if adopted, would give broadcasters added flexibility to make station improvements. The Notice suggested a number of standards to limit the use of negotiated interference procedures to situations where service gains would substantially outweigh any new interference and service losses. Specifically, it asked for comment on the following negotiated interference agreement criteria: (1) total service gains must be at least five times as great as the increase in total interference; (2) total interference received by any station could not exceed five percent of the area and population within its protected service contour; (3) no interference would be permitted within the boundaries of any affected station's community of license; and (4) areas receiving new interference must continue to receive at least five aural services.

The contingent application rule change would, if adopted, permit the filing of up to four related, simultaneously filed contingent minor change FM applications, including both one-step upgrade and downgrade applications. Currently, this rule prohibits the filing of FM technical applications that are contingent upon the grant of a second, pending technical proposal. The Notice suggests that all related applications would be dismissed if any of the applications cannot be granted, and that any coordinated agreement would be rejected that would not serve the public interest.

The FCC also proposed rules for the adoption of a point-to-point (PTP) FM signal propagation model to supplement the standard prediction model in the Commission's rules. Usage of PTP methodology would be limited to circumstances where the standard prediction methodology overstates a station's interfering contour. It would not permit usage of PTP methodology to show that a protected or interfering contour exceeds distances calculated in accordance with standard predictions curves. Applicants and objectors could use PTP methodology to determine whether application and allotment proposals satisfy city grade coverage requirements.

The NPRM also proposes to divide Class C stations into two subclasses, one that consists of stations with antennas between 300 and 450 meters and another composed of stations having antennas with heights between 451 and 600 meters above average terrain. Stations would be provided with a three-year transition period to obtain authorizations that specify heights of at least 451 meters; stations not meeting this criterion would automatically be downgraded to the new Class C0 (C-zero) category.

The Notice also proposed to extend "first come/first served" procedures to AM, NCE FM, and FM translator minor change applications. It would expand the definition of "minor change" in these services to permit expedited processing of routine facility applications. It also proposes to expand the scope of statutorily permitted one-step licensing to include antenna structure coordinate corrections and FM translator and booster station power decreases.

The NPRM also proposed to substantially overhaul Class D licensing procedures and rules.

The minor rule changes adopted by the Commission include revisions to correct erroneous filing addresses and to conform FM translator rules to bilateral ageeements with Canada and Mexico, clarifications to the grandfathered short-spaced FM station rule, and the addition of two rules that identify Mass Media Bureau web sites.

Action by the Commission June 11, 1998, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order (FCC 98-117), Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth issuing separate statement.

- FCC -

News Media Contact: David Fiske (202) 418-0513
Mass Media Bureau Contacts: Peter Doyle (202) 418-2780; Alyssa Roberts (202) 418- 2710; Bill Scher (202) 418-2710