Category Archives: National

FCC Grants 60-day Grace Period for IPAWS Update

According to a Public Notice from the FCC, EAS participants will not have to update their IPAWS certificates by the November 8, 2019 deadline. 

FEMA and some EAS participants expressed concern over the timeframe, saying that it was not sufficient time. As a result, the FCC issued the public notice to inform EAS participants about Section 11.35(b) of the commission’s rules, which allow for operations to continue “without the defective equipment pending its repair or replacement for 60 days without further FCC authority.”

EAS participants will have until January 7, 2020 to complete the IPAWS certificate updates.

Instructions for updating certificates for the DASDEC EAS devices are here

Users of SAGE EAS equipment should have completed a software update by now. More information is here. If you haven’t already, you need to purchase the software update for $349, and SCMS is a dealer. 

DASDEC EAS Users Can Update IPAWS Certificates

From the SBE EAS List server:
If you are using a DASDEC or OneNet CAP EAS device, we received confirmation from FEMA to release the new Federal Bridge certificate bundle to our users.  Please try to have this certificate update file installed by November 8, 2019 – it is important for the proper validation of CAP alert messages from IPAWS.

The new FEMA IPAWS Certificate for DASDEC/One-Net is now posted: http://www.digitalalertsystems.com/DAS_pages/resources_fsb.html. Instructions and download link for the bundle are found at that site.

Continue reading DASDEC EAS Users Can Update IPAWS Certificates

EAS Update

Stations: Confirm Your Station is Compliant with EAS Updates

By Larry Wilkins, Chair, SBE EAS Advisory Group

The FCC and FEMA are in the process of making changes in the EAS and CAP system. Most of these changes concern security issues. To aid stations in understanding these changes and what will be required to keep your EAS units compliant, we have put together the following information.

Continue reading EAS Update

FCC Okays Nexstar Purchase of Tribune Media

The FCC today announced the approval of Nexstar Broadcasting Group’s acquisition of Tribune Media. Nexstar will become the largest owner of TV stations with more than 200 outlets nationwide.

Nexstar will have to divest 21 stations in markets where their outlets will put the company over FCC station count limits. They’ve planned to sell off those excess stations to the Tegna, Scripps, and Circle City groups.

In San Diego, Tribune has operated KSWB-TV, known locally as “Fox 5,” that the group purchased in a bankruptcy sale in 1995 for $70-million.

Tribune Media owned the San Diego Union-Tribune from May 2015 until it was purchased by Patrick Soon-Shiong in February 2018.

FCC Issues a Violation Notice to a SoCal Low Power FM

On August 9, 2019, the FCC issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Low Power FM broadcaster KLIE-LP Fountain Valley, CA, licensee International Crusade of the Penny. The FCC alleges they use a Bext XL-500 transmitter that isn’t certified for use as an LPFM device.

FCC Logo

I contacted Dennis Pieri, owner of Bext, Inc. in San Diego and asked what he knew about this violation announcement. First, he told me that all FM transmitters sold for operation in the USA need to be “FCC Approved.” Additionally, transmitters bound for USA low power FM broadcasters need special certification. The Bext XT150 and XT300 transmitters are low power certified, but not the XL500 model mentioned in the FCC NOV. This extra step was presumably designed to keep LPFMs from grabbing overpowered or Chinese knockoff transmitters with excessive harmonics and spurious emissions off-the-air since it was assumed these licensees might need to get on-the-air with minimum cost and less than ideal technical assistance.

Dennis says the transmitter in question was sold by a dealer in 2015, not by Bext directly. The owners of KLIE-LP claim the transmitter is an XL300, not XL500 that the FCC claims to have seen during their inspection. Michelle Bradley of REC Networks, an advocate nationally for LPFMs, says a photo sent by the owners of KLIE-LP clearly shows the label of an XL300. That transmitter is not certified for LPFM but presumably might help make the case that the station wasn’t trying to get around power limits by buying that model, and that the whole XT300 vs. XL300 mixup might be seen as an innocent mistake made by the selling dealer.

We reached out to KLIE-LP for comment, who forwarded the message to Ms. Bradley. While she would not address the incident itself, she provided a link to a REC Networks list of certified LPFM transmitters and reminded transmitter buyers to “look for the FCC ID sticker.”

Update 9/6/2019: Dennis Pieri of Bext, Inc. says he shipped an XT300 to KLIE-LP for no extra charge to replace the XL300 they were sold by a dealer. He says the station has installed the new transmitter. Whether this will satisfy the FCC remains to be seen.

Dream, Meet Reality

If you’ve ever been involved in one of these properties, low power FM stations are regulated to fail. They require at least ten-thousand dollars of capital to get on-the-air if you consider legal, technical, and equipment costs. Then they have ongoing labor and music licensing, maintenance, and utility costs. They aren’t allowed to sell commercials, though they can broadcast strictly-defined underwriting announcements. They have to have eight hours of locally-originated programming daily. Technically, LPFMs are limited to 50 watts output power in the Mexican border zone. This is devalued when their height-above-average-terrain exceeds 100 feet. Oh, and that transmitter needs not only FCC approved but a special LPFM certification. It’s daunting, and why many LPFMs never build out their construction permits and others turn in their licenses after getting their year or two doses of operating reality.