KFMB-TV Gets FCC Approval to Increase Channel 8 ERP

On Friday, December 11, the FCC granted a nearly three-year-old Minor Modification application by KFMB-TV channel 8 to increase power from 19.8 kW to 87.4 kW ERP. According to Rick Bosscher in 2017, the change was designed to help with over-the-air reception in households without external VHF antennas, a rarity these days. The change also used the limits of the existing transmitter and antenna systems. The FCC has been approving increases in VHF station power as long as interference zones are not greatly expanded.

Electrical Outages Plague Local AM Stations

Some AM stations went silent last week as SDG&E cut power to San Diego County zones they deemed vulnerable to winds during extreme fire season. According to Darnell Forde, Salem Media Group Chief Engineer, KCBQ 1170 kHz and Family Radio’s KECR 910 kHz at their shared site in Lakeside lost power December 2nd, 2020 at 10:13 PM and it did not return until 5:02 AM on December 4th, some 31 hours later. They do not have generator backup power available.

KPRZ 1210 kHz south of San Marcos lost power briefly the same night, but an emergency generator ran until the utility restored power at 9:28 AM on December 4th.

Darnell said Lakeside and the area around Elfin Forest where the KPRZ transmitter is located experienced high winds during those outages.

San Diego Gas & Electric has adopted a policy of cutting power during wind storms since several fires in California were blamed on power lines arcing.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Departing

As is the custom, Chairman Ajit Pai announced his coming departure in advance of the changing administration in January. Normally, the FCC has five commissioners, two of the minority political party and three of the majority party, including the Chairman. Pai was appointed by President Obama in 2012 and rose to Chairman under President Trump.

Ajit Pai, in a press statement, listed his accomplishments: “Closing the digital divide; promoting innovation and competition, from 5G on the ground to broadband from space; protecting consumers; and advancing public safety.”

His critics have pointed to a perceived bias toward telecom interests over broadcast as the FCC has worked rapidly to sell, not lease, spectrum to the telecom giants directly from spectrum previously used by broadcasters with the goal of universally available fast networking. Ajit Pai had worked two years for Verizon as an Associate General Counsel before returning to public service in 2003. Pai has also worked against internet neutrality in favor of ISP traffic controls and surcharges.

For broadcasters, he supported the move for AM broadcasters to get an FM translator channel wherever possible, which has worked better for some broadcasters than others. He also pushed allowing AM stations to choose digital modulation if they wished. There has been no increase in broadcast spectrum, including for the crowded FM band, under his leadership.

Mt. Woodson at Dusk in the Fog

Mike Curran, SBE 36 Vice-chair, was caught by the Mt. Woodson UCSD HPWren webcam leaving the site in his Jeep.

Says Mike about this photo: “It’s very rare that I windup in my own weather picture. As I hung out after a service call up on Mt Woodson, I wanted to catch a sunset shot, but as you can see the fog, drizzle, and clouds had a different plan. Just by chance my buddy Drew over in Phoenix was watching the UCSD HPwren cam and was able to grab a screenshot of me leaving in my Jeep. Foggy and windy conditions are not much fun driving down that road, but it sure beats the heck out of driving a desk! Like Julia Roberts said in Oceans 11, ‘You should know, somebody’s always watching.'”

Society of Broadcast Engineers, San Diego