The FCC this week issued a waiver for Sage Endec EAS Devices granting them a 90-day extension for implementing new rules that favor IPAWS CAP alerts. The extension applies only to broadcast stations using the Sage devices and not to those using other brands.
The FCC Report and Order for PS Docket No. 15-94 establishing new Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules went into effect earlier this year with a compliance due date of December 12, 2023. This R&O mandates that alerts received via over-the-air “legacy” EAS data tones be held while awaiting a preferred IPAWS CAP alert. Other rules require changes in how the text for national alerts is constructed. A firmware update will be required to keep your station’s EAS devices compliant with the Part 11 rules.
Sage ENDEC says on its website, “We continue to work on the Rev96 update. We have made the FCC aware that the update has taken us longer to produce than we had anticipated, and that there will be insufficient time for many of our users to install the update by the December 12, 2023 deadline. This is especially true for users maintaining a large number of ENDECs. We apologize for the delay. We will update this page and keep the FCC informed on the release status as we get closer to a release date.
“When Rev96 is released, Email will be sent to those who are signed up for our support email list. If you are not on that list, you can sign up on the support page.” The upcoming firmware update costs $159 and is sold through U.S. hardware distributors.
Digital Alert Systems released an update earlier this year that you must apply to your Monroe and DASDEC devices for continued FCC compliance.
The FCC is in the midst of a proceeding examining whether and how to repurpose the 12.7-13.25 GHz Band for new “expanded use”-namely, broadband wireless. Many broadcast stations make use of the band for crucial broadcast auxiliary services (BAS), including for links from studios to transmitters (STLs and TSLs), electronic newsgathering (ENG), and intercity relays (ICRs). Because the “expanded use” contemplated in the band may displace or require the repack of incumbent BAS operations, the Commission is requiring the majority of BAS licensees in the 12.7 GHz band to complete a certification as to the accuracy and operational status of their operations in the band.
The FCC has issued a Public Notice announcing that those certifications are due on or before November 29, 2023. It will be extremely important for broadcasters to timely and accurately complete and file those certifications; the FCC has indicated that it will use the certifications as the mechanism by which to grant or deny broadcasters’ future ability to receive various benefits in the band, including reimbursement for relocation, interference protection, and/or repacking to a new location within the band.
The below synthesizes some of the most important generally applicable aspects of the Notice; however, the following summary should not be viewed as a substitute for a careful examination of the Notice itself.
Certifications for BAS licenses must be filed in ULS. Broadcasters will need to file certifications for their affected 12.7 GHz Band authorizations in the Commission’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) as a “non-docketed pleading” associated with all BAS call signs to which the certification applies. The Notice provides more information on pages 2 and 3, including the required content for each certification. Because ULS functionality can at times be limited due to unexpected technical issues, it is strongly recommended that broadcasters not wait until the last minute to prepare and submit these filings.
Certifications must certify (1) the present accuracy of all information reflected on the license, and (2) that the facilities are operating as authorized. A sample certification format is included at the end of the Notice as “Attachment 1.”
Limited exemptions. If you applied for a new or modified license on or after January 1, 2021-including a modification request in response to the Notice-the specific call sign involved in the application is exempt from the certification requirement. To be clear, this exemption does NOT apply to applications solely for renewal.
Some modifications permitted; also due by November 29. If you discover incorrect information on your current authorizations in the Band, the Public Notice outlines the procedures you must take to modify your authorization to reflect accurate information. Minor modifications will be permitted so long as a licensee can establish in an exhibit to the application either that (1) the modification would not add to any relocation costs, if applicable in the future, or (2) a waiver of the current filing freeze would be justified. Any other (non-minor) modifications must include a request for waiver of the freeze, and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
If you have BAS operations in the 12.7 GHz band, you should carefully examine the Notice and consult your regulatory counsel to ensure a full understanding of how the certification requirements and procedures affect your own authorizations.
FEMA has announced the date for the 2023 NPT, now known as the “Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System.”
The date chosen is October 4th at 11:20 PM Pacific Time, with a backup date of October 11.
The plan is to test EAS and WEA systems. The FormTwo will be granted an extra day, requiring it to be filed by October 5th. Form Three will be due no later than November 20th. If you have any changes in station ownership or contacts since earlier this year, you should update your Form One, too, before September 15th. You can access the forms on the ETRS page.
More information is on the FEMA and the FCC sites.
The FCC on July 23, 2023 issued a Report and Order allowing a limited number of analog FM stations on TV channel 6 to continue to operate.
Stations such as Venture Technology’s KRPE San Diego have been operating with Special Temporary Authorities to operate with a digital TV signal and analog FM on 87.7 or 87.75 MHz. These stations have proven capable of delivering an ATSC 3.0 signal compatible with the existing standards and yet continue to provide audio service compatible with most FM radio tuners.
The FCC also specifically stated that, at least for the time being, they would not allow the entire channel 6 spectrum from 82–88 MHz to be open to analog FM service, nor would they allow new stations to adopt the 87.7 analog carrier configuration.
The FCC in late June announced a week-long filing window for new Low Power FM station licenses for the entire band in early November 2023. This will be the first filing window since 2013. Interested parties are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the application process. You can monitor the FCC’s LPFM web page for more information. San Diego applicants should know that there’s no open spectrum and that power limitations that apply near the Mexican border make interference-free operations unlikely.