Prior Coordination for STLs

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Let's face the fact that broadcast auxiliary facilities are somewhat less than glamorous. These quiet, unassuming workhouses of the program stream tend in many facilities to be housed in a sketchy rack in a dark back closet or furnace room of an otherwise slick and beautiful facility. No doubt, they are aware of this relegation to second-class citizen for functionality issues tend to pop up at inopportune times. While we cannot totally eliminate equipment failures, due diligence in the realm of coordination and licensing can go a long way towards reducing other types of "gotchas."

STL antennas

It was not that many years ago that the Federal Communications Commission revised the broadcast auxiliary coordination requirements to put some more teeth into them. Before those procedural changes, applications were routinely filed without undergoing any formal coordination. Since there tends to be courtesy among broadcasters, incidents of problems tended to be rare. The increase in the number of broadcast facilities and consolidation in the marketplace has made the coordination process essential, the Commission's rules notwithstanding.

Finding space

Every new station that goes online can require up to 500kHz of spectrum in a band only 8MHz wide. In cases where multiple paths are required, the amount of spectral real estate carved up tends to double. Combine this with consolidation situations where several stations are programmed out of a single building, and the available auxiliary spectrum is indeed scarce. These situations do not even address the desired use of the auxiliary spectrum by licensees of translators. The popularity of translators for AM fill-in use has definitely increased spectrum demand. It should be noted, however, that auxiliary facilities providing program material to translators may not interfere with or preclude full-power STL uses.

No doubt, you have received several, if not many, frequency coordination notices. These notices form one side of the coordination process. The notifications must include the relevant technical details of the proposed facility. In essence, the proponent must provide sufficient technical details so that an independent analysis of the proposed path can be made before the facility application is submitted. Although the actual format of these notices will vary subtly, most firms will include an introduction letter, tabulation of technical details, and graphical illustration of the proposed path.

From these details, a qualitative analysis can usually be made fairly simply. For instance, if the proposed path is 100 miles away from yours, cross-polarized and operating in the opposite direction, it is a good bet that it will not cause you problems. On the other hand, a proposed path in the same market as yours that is very close in frequency could prove problematic. Thus, any coordination notice received should definitely be considered carefully.

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