Welcome to RF Current, a weekly electronic newsletter focusing on Broadcast technical and F.C.C. related issues. This newsletter is part of The RF Page @ www.transmitter.com, a web site devoted to TV Broadcast RF engineering. For more information see the What is... guide to the R.F. Page site.

Issues are dated each Monday, although recently I've needed an extra day(week) or two to complete each issue. Articles may be posted earlier if time permits or if there is a major, breaking story.

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October 16, 2000 - Issue 236 Final Edition

FCC Authorizes GE Americom to Launch and Operate GE-6 (Oct. 12)
In the Memorandum Opinion, Order and Authorization - Application for Authority to Launch and Operate a Replacement C/Ku Hybrid Fixed Satellite Service Space Station at 72 degrees W.L., the FCC granted GE Americom authority to launch and operate GE-6 at the 72 degrees West Longitude orbit location. GE Americom requested the authority to use GE-6 to replace its Satcom SN-4 spacecraft, which was originally assigned to 101 degrees W.L. In 1999, the FCC allowed GE Americom to exchange orbital locations for Satcom SN-4 and the GE-4 hybrid satellite, which was originally assigned to 72 degrees W.L. Recently Satcom SN-4 has been operating at 81.1 degrees W.L. under an STA.

Earlier thie year GE Americom amended the Satcom SN-4 replacement application to reflect the reassignment of SN-4 from 101 degrees to 72 degrees and to make other changes to effectuate international coordination agreement relating to the 72 degree W.L. spot. The Amendment specified that the coverage area of GE-6 would be limited to North America and the Caribbean. The FCC found that GE Americom "is legally, financially and technically qualified to launch and operate the GE-6 satellite." It also found that the grant of the application would service the public interest.

FCC Chairman Kennard Says U.S. might not meet 85 percent DTV Penetration until 2025 (Oct. 10)
In a speech titled "What Does $70 Billion Buy You Anyway" at the Museum of Television and Radio on October 10, FCC Chairman William Kennard focused on broadcasters' public interest obligations. The 70 billion dollar figure comes from the value he said some industry experts had placed on the spectrum Congress gave the TV industry to offer digital television. After listing several public interest obligations, Kennard said, "one of the best ways broadcasters could enhance democracy and the public interest in this digital era is by speeding up the transition to DTV and returning the valuable analog spectrum to the American people." He commented that in the past, the U.S. had an abundance of room and resources - fertile land and crucial minerals - to foster creativity and entrepreneurship. However, in the digital age, the most valuable resource is bandwidth. He explained, "while Europe and Japan have successfully unleashed the economic potential of 3G and the wireless web, we in America will have to move quickly to stay ahead in the New Economy."

Kennard questioned the wisdom of allowing broadcasters to keep the analog portion of the spectrum until DTV penetration reached 85 percent of the American market (or 2006, whichever is later). He noted that it took color TV 22 years and VCRs 16 years to reach that level of penetration, saying, "if those are any indication, DTV conversion will take much, much longer than 2006, particularly given the way broadcasters are dragging their feet at the moment. We may not see that level of DTV penetration until 2025."

Chairman Kennard outlined a three-part plan to push the conversion to DTV and free up spectrum for the wireless web:
  1. "Congress should reconsider the 85% loophole on the 2006 date, so that it doesn't become used as a "trick number" to justify making the double dose of spectrum a broadcaster entitlement for the next twenty-five years.
  2. "Congress should direct the FCC to adopt a requirement that, by a given date - say January 1, 2003 - all new television sets include the capability to receive DTV signals. In addition to accelerating DTV deployment, this order would make DTV technology much more affordable by unleashing market forces and economies of scale to drive down the cost of equipment and receiver chips in both sets and converter boxes.
  3. "Congress should require that, as of January 1, 2006, broadcasters will pay a fee for the use of the analog channel. This spectrum-squatters' fee would escalate yearly, until broadcasters complete their transition to digital and return the analog spectrum to the American people."

Kennard would use the proceeds from the squatters' fee to help fund the digital conversion of public television, particularly in rural areas, "or to support educational or informational programming that serves the public but is not provided by the market, through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or through other funding mechanism created by Congress."

Chairman Kennard's speech covered many issues outside the deadlines for conversion to DTV, mainly related to broadcasters' public interest obligations. Refer to the complete speech, What Does $70 Billion Buy You Anyway - Rethinking Public Interest Requirements at the Dawn of the Digital Age or the FCC News Release FCC Chairman Kennard Calls For More Benefits to Public From $70 Billion Give-Away of 2nd Digital TV Channel.

FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making to Modify DTV Table of Allotments in Corpus Christi, TX (Oct. 13)
KVOA Communications, Inc., licensee of station KRIS-TV, NTSC Channel 6 in Rapid City, South Dakota has requested the substitution of DTV Channel 13 for its assigned DTV Channel 50. KVOA Communications, Inc. (KVOA) stated it believes "it could reduce the costs of building and operating its DTV station by operating on VHF DTV 13." It also noted that DTV operation on the VHF channel would improve the signal coverage for viewers in the Corpus Christi, Texas DMA and would "result in a more efficient use of the broadcast spectrum."

The FCC has found this channel change would meet its requirements and warrants consideration, but warned concurrence by the Mexican government must be obtained for the allotment. The technical parameters of the modified allotment on Channel 13 would specify an effective radiated power of 160 kW at a height above average terrain of 291 meters.

Interested parties may file comments on or before December 4, 2000. Reply comments are due on or before December 19, 2000. Refer to the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (MM Docket 00-198) for details on the request and information on filing comments.

OTHER Items of Interest

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