San Diego’s remaining analog TV station, posing as an FM station, filed with the FCC to switch to ATSC service. KRPE-LP on Mt. San Miguel operates on TV channel 6 as “Guadalupe Radio 87.7 FM.” The station visually shows an ID slide or live video.
The FCC is requiring all analog TV stations, like KRPE-LP, to cease operating July 13, 2021. That date is coming fast for LPTV station groups that must change transmitters and filters in the next four months. Venture Technologies owns KRPE-LP San Diego and many other channel 6 analog stations nationwide. The application for a flash cut includes a request to extend the Construction Permit to January 10, 2022, allowing 87.75 to continue broadcasting in FM while Venture builds the digital station.
Venture Technologies recently withdrew its application for a channel 14 digital companion channel for San Diego in favor of the digital flash-cut filing for channel 6.
The FCC in 2019 asked for comments on the operation of analog FM carriers on TV channel 6. Venture Technologies joined the Preserve Community Programming Coalition to file comments supporting the operation of an analog FM signal at the top end of channel 6 while using ATSC 3.0 for the remainder of the channel–a technology compromise that would avail the use of 87.7 and 87.9 MHz for FM while making the lower end of the channel for ATSC. They say lab tests have shown that properly made tuners can decode the ATSC signal. EMF is a member of this coalition.
NPR and REC Networks oppose the continuation of so-called “Franken FMs.” NPR appears to be concerned about interference to existing FM stations in the 88.1 to 91.9 noncommercial portion of the FM band in the US. For example, KKJZ Long Beach at 88.1 is potentially vulnerable to an alternate frequency signal at 87.7 MHz. In fact, they have co-existed for years in the Los Angeles market.
NPR also mentions that if diversity is what the FCC wants in allowing 87.7 and 87.9 signals, the FCC should consider opening all of the 82 to 88 MHz TV channel 6 spectrum for the 30 FM carriers it could handle.
REC Networks maintains that channel 6 FMs get an unfair advantage with an exemption from HAAT (height above average terrain) rules that would derate the power of similar FM stations in neighboring spectrum. More broadly, they maintain that the signal contour rules give them a big advantage.
The FCC has yet to make a ruling on the continuation of FM signals on channel 6 TV.
(The author, Gary Stigall, has as clients EMF and Venture Technologies but did not consult with either for purposes of writing this article.)