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Important Broadcast Auxiliary (Part 74) News

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  • Frank Maynard
    TO ALL SBE FREQUENCY COORDINATORS AND OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES: SBE General Counsel Chris Imlay has informed me that the FCC has DENIED our request for a
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 11, 2003

      SBE General Counsel Chris Imlay has informed me that the FCC has DENIED
      our request for a blanket fee waiver to allow BAS licensees to fill-in the
      missing data in so many incomplete ULS records. Please read the attached
      memo for details.

      This is an issue of considerable importance to many broadcasters, and we
      are of course disappointed in the decision. Nevertheless, it is
      imperative that broadcasters move ahead with a concerted effort to bring
      the ULS database up to date. Unfortunately, doing so will require the
      filing of modification applications, with the standard filing fee of $120
      (except for fee-exempt entities).

      Please share this information with the broadcasters in your area. I
      encourage you to distribute copies of the attached memo at chapter
      meetings and to forward it by e-mail as you are able.

      Because it has taken so many months to get an answer from the Commission,
      we will request an extension of the six-month stay, now in effect until
      October 16, on implementation of the new PCN requirements for BAS fixed
      links. As we do not know whether that request will be granted, I advise
      all affected broadcasters to check their BAS licenses against the
      corresponding ULS records and to file the necessary modifications as soon
      as possible to correct any incongruities.

      David Otey, CSTE
      SBE National Frequency Coordination Director


      To: John L. Poray, CAE SBE Executive Director

      SBE Frequency Coordination Committee

      SBE Frequency Coordinators

      From: Chris Imlay, Esq. SBE General Counsel

      Re: Fee Waiver Denial by FCC

      Date: September 10, 2003

      On June 2, 2003, SBE filed an Emergency Request for Waiver
      with the Office of the Managing Director at FCC. The waiver, which would
      have been applicable to all Part 74 licensees, would waive the requirement
      of tendering filing fees for certain Part 74 Modification applications
      filed on FCC Form 601. Specifically, the SBE request asked that Part 74
      licensees be permitted to file a form 601 application to modify their
      existing Part 74 Broadcast Auxiliary (BAS) licenses without tendering a
      fee, to the extent that the modification applications provide information
      missing from the Commission's database. A filing fee would, under
      SBE's proposal, have been necessary for an application filed in order
      to correct erroneous information, or to otherwise modify an existing
      Broadcast Auxiliary license. This waiver request was denied by the
      Commission's Chief Financial Officer, Mark A. Reger, on September 3,
      2003. As the result, it is necessary for all Part 74 licensees to review
      and modify their Part 74 licenses to include any missing information,
      including especially fixed receive sites, immediately. To do so, FCC Form
      601 must be filed and the normal application fee of $120.00 must be
      tendered with each modification application.

      SBE had requested the waiver in order to encourage licensees
      to improve the now substantially defective FCC database for Part 74
      facilities, in anticipation of the new coordination procedures for Part 74
      fixed facilities which are soon to go into effect. In ET Docket No. 01-75,
      the Commission released a Report and Order, FCC 02-298, on November 13,
      2002 (the R&O). That docket proceeding revised the Part 74 Broadcast
      Auxiliary Service (BAS) rules to update them and to permit more efficient
      technologies to be deployed in that Service. Among many other things, the
      R&O created a specific, mandatory frequency coordination system prior to
      licensing of new or modified BAS facilities applicable to most fixed
      point-to-point Aural and TV BAS facilities. The new prior coordination
      procedures were modeled after the existing Part 101 procedures used for
      fixed microwave paths. The procedures involve both standard coordination
      processes and a prior notification procedure for co-channel and adjacent
      channel licensees in nearby geographic areas. This process obviously
      presumes a valid and current database which would be used by the Part 74

      After the release of the ET Docket 01-75 R&O, the Commission
      granted an SBE Request for Temporary Stay of the effective date of the new
      prior coordination procedures for fixed BAS facilities. SBE asked for
      additional time to allow BAS licensees to provide and correct BAS receive
      site information in the licensing database (ULS) to ensure that the new
      procedures effectively avert interference to existing systems. Though SBE
      had asked that a stay be granted for a period of one year, the Commission
      granted this stay for a period of only six months, on April 15, 2003. The
      stay terminates October 16, 2003, unless otherwise extended.

      SBE argued to FCC that for historic reasons, principally the
      fact that the old FCC form 313 did not require information such as receive
      site coordinates, for example, the database now does not include such
      information for a significant percentage of existing stations.
      Furthermore, because there was, for years, a disconnect between broadcast
      license assignments under Part 73 and the Part 74 database, the Part 74
      database was, and remains, substantially corrupted. While the new FCC Form
      601 solves most of the missing information problem for newer facilities,
      the database remains corrupted by inaccurate, outdated and missing
      information. While the Commission staff has on recent occasion called for
      correction of database information by licensees, some information required
      to accurately conduct the new prior notification procedures and updated
      coordination processes is simply missing. SBE argued that it would be
      unfair to subject BAS licensees to an inaccurate and incomplete database,
      because prior coordination efforts for new facilities would fail and
      result in interference. Incumbent licensees have had existing fixed
      studio-to-transmitter links and other BAS fixed facilities in place for
      many years and provided all information required at all relevant times to
      keep their license information up to date, but simply weren't required
      to, and did not, provide certain information now critical. A bad database
      is also unfair to new applicants who go through the process of applying
      for a new fixed BAS facility, only to find that there are existing receive
      sites which will suffer harmful interference because they were not in the
      database, precluding the coordinated new facility.

      Because there must be an incentive to licensees to correct the
      database, and because the missing information and the bad database is not
      the fault of the Part 74 licensee, but rather the legacy of FCC forms and
      database management, the fee waiver appeared entirely appropriate to SBE.

      The FCC's number crunchers, however, taking an unusually
      unsympathetic tone, said that waivers should be requested for each
      individual station, not on a blanket basis. In any case, they said,
      waivers are not granted liberally, but only for extraordinary and
      compelling circumstances. Obtaining an accurate database is not such a
      circumstance, they said. FCC indicated that the six-month stay on the
      effective date of the new, prior coordination procedures, was sufficient
      accommodation to allow licensees to correct the database, and therefore
      the fee waiver was not shown to be in the public interest.

      Where do we go from here? The stay on the effective date of
      the new Part 74 prior coordination rules for fixed BAS facilities expires
      October 16, 2003. SBE intends to request an additional period of 6 months
      before the new Part 74 prior coordination procedures for fixed BAS
      facilities goes into effect. In the meantime, licensees should immediately
      check their Part 74 licenses and add any missing data, such as receive
      locations and information that might not have been provided in the past
      using the old FCC Form 313.
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