The FCC Media Bureau announced the elimination of the Main Studio Rule last week. That rule had required each AM, FM, and television broadcast station to maintain a main studio located in or near its community of license. The order also eliminated existing requirements associated with the main studio rule, including the requirement that the main studio has full-time management and staff present during normal business hours, and that it has program origination capability.
Social media commenters have expressed dismay for the “end of broadcasting” as large owner groups continue to consolidate operations in distant cities and close local studios. Others see the opportunity for “live and local” operators to stand out.
iHeartMedia and Crawford Broadcasting took advantage of the FCC’s offer to allocate a translator channel to help AM stations find a distribution less buried by electrical noise and nighttime signal nulls. Continue reading FM Peanut Stations are Cropping Up Around San Diego
Several TV stations in San Diego have applied to the FCC to raise their Effective Radiated Power (ERP) above either their traditional power or the power assigned to them for replacement channels in the coming spectrum repacking. The FCC opened an application window this fall for stations to modify their facilities to meet local propagation conditions.
KFMB-TV channel 8 applied to increase power from 19.8 kW to 87.4 kW ERP. That figure was chosen based on capabilities of their primary transmitter and does not involve a change of antenna.
KGTV channel 10 applied to increase power from 20.7 kW to 160 kW ERP. The application includes using the present Dielectric H-pol standing wave antenna. Presumably, the older Larcan transmitter will be replaced to make full power.
VHF stations are having trouble remaining competitive with over-the-air viewers who increasingly prefer inexpensive indoor antennas with UHF-sized small apertures. San Diego’s stucco construction with metal reinforced outer walls doesn’t help reception, either. The power boosts are expected to help with a new generation of viewers who are choosing to save money by sacrificing a big selection of cable or satellite TV channels.
KNSD channel 40 applied to increase power from 200 kW to 385 kW as it moves to post-repack channel 17. This returns KNSD to an ERP that compares with its neighbors KPBS, KSWB, and KUSI, as well as Tijuana DTV stations.
Edit 1/4/18 – KGTV old transmitter is a Larcan, not Comark. Duh.
Virginia-based TV station group owner TEGNA yesterday announced their agreement with KFMB Stations owner Elisabeth Kimmel to take over KFMB-AM-FM-TV for $325-million cash. Since the group doesn’t currently own any radio stations, it’s likely TEGNA will spinoff the radio stations at a future date. It’s not yet known whether the sale includes the valuable real estate under their Kearny Mesa, Mt. Soledad and Santee facilities.
Elisabeth is the third-generation of Meyer family owners of KFMB who bought the stations in 1964 from Jack Wrather, creators of Lassie and The Lone Ranger.
Because of its independence and lack of debt, the stations have traditionally spent more than its competitors in the market. They have traditionally led the San Diego market in overall news ratings and have the most employees.
Channel 8 applied in late November to increase their power output from 19.8 kW to 87.4 kW ERP. KFMB Stations RF Supervisor Rick Bosscher says they can implement that power level with existing equipment. The station still uses an RCA omni-directional transmission antenna built in 1972 that handled 50 kW transmitter power. Their Harris iCD 30 transmitter, capable of 10.5 kW, has been loafing along at 2.4 kW. There’s an older Harris that can also handle the new power level, and that will continue as a backup unit.
VHF TV stations have had a hard time competing with UHF stations since the digital transition in 2009 because home viewers are trying to use indoor antennas with small apertures designed for UHF reception only. Signal penetration through metal-reinforced stucco causes a loss that used to create a poor viewer experience for rabbit ear antenna viewers, but those viewers who put up with static-filled NTSC video found themselves unable to get a usable ATSC picture at all.
The FCC opened a window this fall for all TV stations to upgrade their signals within the existing rules limiting interference. A number of UHF and VHF stations are taking advantage of this opportunity to boost their power.