[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 228 (Monday, November 28, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 72885-72888]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-30598]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 73

[MM Docket No. 99-325; DA 11-1832]


FM Asymmetric Sideband Operation and Associated Technical Studies

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission seeks 
comment on a request by certain private parties, identified below, that 
the Commission authorize voluntary asymmetric digital sideband power 
for

[[Page 72886]]

FM stations. This document establishes a period for public comment on 
this request and on two related technical reports.

DATES: Comments for this proceeding may be filed on or before December 
19, 2011 and reply comments may be filed on or before January 3, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by MM Docket No. 99-325, 
by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Web Site: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Email: ecfs@fcc.gov. Include the docket number in the 
subject line of the message. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section 
of this document for detailed information on how to submit comments by 
email.
     Mail: 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: (202) 418-
0530 or TTY: (202) 418-0432.

For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter H. Doyle, Chief, Media Bureau, 
Audio Division, at (202) 418-2700; Susan Crawford, Ann Gallagher, or 
Charles Miller, Media Bureau, Audio Division, at (202) 418-2700.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of a Public Notice 
released by the Media Bureau on November 1, 2011. The full text of this 
document is available for public inspection and copying during regular 
business hours in the Commission's Reference Information Center, 
Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. 
The complete text of this document also may be purchased from the 
Commission's copy contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., Portals II, 
445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, telephone 
(202) 488-5300, facsimile (202) 488-5563 or via email FCC@BCPIWEB.com. 
The full text may also be downloaded at http://www.fcc.gov. Pursuant to 
Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 
1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or 
before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. Comments 
may be filed using: (1) The Commission's Electronic Comment Filing 
System (ECFS), (2) the Federal Government's eRulemaking Portal, or (3) 
by filing paper copies. See Electronic Filing of Documents in 
Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://www.fcc.gov/cbg/ecfs, 
or the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Filers 
should follow the instructions provided on the Web sites for submitting 
comments.
     For ECFS filers, in completing the transmittal screen, 
filers should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service mailing 
address, and the applicable docket number: MM Docket No. 99-325. 
Parties may also submit an electronic comment by Internet email. To get 
filing instructions, filers should send an email to ecfs@fcc.gov, and 
include the following words in the body of the message, ``get form.'' A 
sample form and instructions will be sent in response.
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and four copies of each filing. Filings can be sent by 
hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by 
first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail (although the 
Commission continues to experience delays in receiving U.S. Postal 
Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission. 
The Commission's contractor will receive hand-delivered or messenger-
delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary at 236 
Massachusetts Avenue NE., Suite 110, Washington, DC 20002. The filing 
hours at this location are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. All hand deliveries must be 
held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be 
disposed of before entering the building. Commercial overnight mail 
(other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be 
sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743. U.S. Postal 
Service first-class mail, Express Mail, and Priority Mail should be 
addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
     Copies of the reports and any subsequently filed documents 
in this matter may be obtained electronically at http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html, and in paper form from BCPI during normal business 
hours in the Commission's Reference Information Center located at 445 
12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC, 20554.
     Alternate formats of this Public Notice (computer 
diskette, large print, audio recording or Braille) are available to 
persons with disabilities by contacting the Consumer and Governmental 
Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 or (202) 418-7365 (TTY).

Summary of Public Notice

    On October 4, 2011, representatives of iBiquity Digital Corporation 
(iBiquity) and National Public Radio, Inc. (NPR) met with Media Bureau 
staff to discuss the possibility of permitting FM stations to operate 
with unequal digital sideband power levels. Concurrently, iBiquity 
filed a technical report that discusses the field performance of 
asymmetric digital sideband operation by FM stations. On October 24, 
2011, NPR filed a report describing the results of field testing of 
asymmetric FM digital sidebands used in conjunction with the testing of 
newly-developed technology for reducing the peak-to-average power ratio 
in digital transmitters. Based on these reports, iBiquity and NPR 
requested that the Commission authorize voluntary asymmetric digital 
sideband power for FM stations. On November 1, 2011, the Media Bureau 
released the ``November 1, 2011, Public Notice'' soliciting comments on 
the iBiquity and NPR request and the two related technical reports. 
Comment Sought on Request for FM Asymmetric Sideband Operation and 
Associated Technical Studies, MM Docket No. 99-325, Public Notice, DA 
11-1832 (MB rel. Nov. 1, 2011).
    The iBiquity and NPR request and the iBiquity and NPR technical 
studies are available electronically from the Commission's Electronic 
Comment Filing System under MM Docket No. 99-235 at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/comments/view?id=6016844127 and http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021717638, respectively; or 
from the Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, 
Inc., 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, 1-(800) 
378-3160. The Media Bureau seeks comment on the issues identified 
above. The Bureau also seeks comment on the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis below. This action is taken under delegated 
authority pursuant to Sec. Sec.  0.61 and 0.283 of the Commission's 
rules, 47 CFR 0.61, 0.283, and the Second IBOC Order (Digital Audio 
Broadcasting Systems and Their Impact on the Terrestrial Radio 
Broadcast Service, Second Report and Order, First Order on 
Reconsideration and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 22 
FCC Rcd 10344, 10383, para. 99 (2007)).

[[Page 72887]]

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Public Notice tentatively concludes that it would be expedient 
to modify Form 335-FM (OMB control number 3060-1034), currently used 
for Digital Notifications, to accommodate requests for increased 
digital power and/or operation with asymmetric digital sideband power. 
The Public Notice also seeks comment on the process by which FM 
stations engaging in such operations would notify the Commission and 
how such notifications would be maintained in the Commission's 
electronic databases. Thus, the proposal under consideration may result 
in a new or revised information collection requirement being adopted by 
the Commission when the final rules are adopted. If the Commission 
adopts any new or revised information collection requirement, the 
Commission will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register 
inviting the public to comment on the requirement, as required by the 
paper Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). 
In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 
2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), the Commission 
seeks specific comment on how it might ``further reduce the information 
collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 
employees.''

Ex Parte Rules

    This proceeding will be treated as a ``permit-but-disclose'' 
proceeding subject to the ``permit-but-disclose'' requirements under 
Sec.  1.1206(b) of the Commission's rules (47 CFR 1.1206(b)). Ex parte 
presentations are permissible if disclosed in accordance with 
Commission rules, except during the Sunshine Agenda period when 
presentations, ex parte or otherwise, are generally prohibited. Persons 
making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that a memorandum 
summarizing a presentation must contain a summary of the substance of 
the presentation and not merely a listing of the subjects discussed. 
More than a one- or two-sentence description of the views and arguments 
presented is generally required. Additional rules pertaining to oral 
and written presentations are set forth in 47 CFR 1.1206(b).

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended 
(RFA), 5 U.S.C. 603, the Commission has prepared this Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities by the 
policies and rules proposed. Written public comments are requested on 
this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and 
must be filed by the deadlines for comments on the proposed rule as 
provided in the ``Dates'' paragraph of the item. The Commission will 
send a copy of the proposed rule, including this IRFA, to the Chief 
Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In 
addition, the proposed rule and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be 
published in the Federal Register.

A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    This document seeks comment on the iBiquity and NPR request that 
the Commission authorize voluntary asymmetric digital sideband power 
for FM stations. Currently, FM stations may operate only with equal 
power levels on the upper and lower primary digital sidebands. In the 
First IBOC Order (Digital Audio Broadcasting Systems and Their Impact 
on the Terrestrial Radio Broadcast Service, First Report and Order, 17 
FCC Rcd 19990 (2002)), the Commission authorized FM stations to 
commence hybrid digital broadcasting with digital effective radiated 
power of one percent (-20 dBc) of the analog carrier level. In 
authorizing in-band-on-channel (IBOC) operation for FM stations, the 
Commission observed: ``The digital portion of the hybrid IBOC signal is 
transmitted on frequencies immediately adjacent to the main analog 
signal. Consequently, minimizing interference to stations on first-and, 
to a lesser extent, second-adjacent channels poses the most serious 
analog compatibility challenge.''
    Early experience with FM IBOC operation showed the one-percent 
digital power level to be insufficient to replicate analog coverage 
areas. In response to a request from a group of broadcasters, the Media 
Bureau issued its January 29, 2010, Order (Digital Audio Broadcasting 
Systems and Their Impact on the Terrestrial Radio Broadcast Service, 
Order, 25 FCC Rcd 1182 (MB 2010)), which authorized most FM stations to 
increase their digital power up to 6 dB (to -14 dBc) upon notification 
to the Commission, and some stations up to 10 dB (to -10 dBc) by filing 
an informal application demonstrating that certain contour non-overlap 
conditions are met with respect to other stations operating on the 
upper and lower first-adjacent channels.
    A significant number of FM stations are currently precluded from 
taking advantage of the full 10 dB digital power increase permitted by 
the Order due to the presence of a nearby station on one but not both 
of the two first-adjacent channels. If asymmetric digital sideband 
operation is permitted, such stations could presumably increase their 
digital power on the sideband away from the limiting station. The two 
technical reports include data supporting iBiquity's and NPR's 
contentions that such operations may improve a station's digital 
coverage without causing interference. By this November 1, 2011, Public 
Notice the Bureau seeks comment on the iBiquity and NPR request and the 
iBiquity and NPR technical reports.

B. Legal Basis

    The authority for this proposed rulemaking is contained in sections 
1, 2, 4(i), 301, 302, 303, 307, 308, and 309(j) of the Communications 
Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 301, 302, 303, 
307, 308, and 309(j).

C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which 
the Proposed Rules Will Apply

    The RFA directs the Commission to provide a description of and, 
where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that will 
be affected by the proposed rules. The RFA generally defines the term 
``small entity'' as encompassing the terms ``small business,'' ``small 
organization,'' and ``small governmental entity.'' In addition, the 
term ``small business'' has the same meaning as the term ``small 
business concern'' under the Small Business Act. A small business 
concern is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is 
not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any 
additional criteria established by the SBA.
    Radio Stations. A radio broadcasting station is an establishment 
primarily engaged in broadcasting aural programs by radio to the 
public.\1\ Included in this industry are commercial, religious, 
educational, and other radio stations. Radio broadcasting stations 
which primarily are engaged in radio broadcasting and which produce 
radio program materials are similarly included. The SBA has established 
a small business size standard for this category, which is: firms 
having $7 million or less in annual receipts.\2\ According to BIA/
Kelsey, MEDIA Access Pro Radio Analyzer Database, on

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November 1, 2011, about 10,785 (97%) of 11,127 commercial radio 
stations have revenue of $7 million or less and thus qualify as small 
entities under the SBA definition. Therefore, the majority of such 
entities are small entities. We note, however, that in assessing 
whether a business concern qualifies as small under the above size 
standard, business affiliations must be included. Many radio stations 
are affiliated with much larger corporations having much higher 
revenue. Our estimate, therefore, likely overstates the number of small 
entities that might be affected by any ultimate changes to the rules 
and forms.
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    \1\ U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Code Definitions for NAICS 
Code 515112 Radio Stations. http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND515111HTM#N51512.
    \2\ 13 CFR 121.201, NAICS code 515112 (updated for inflation in 
2008).
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D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping and Other 
Compliance Requirements

    In the Second IBOC Order, the Commission declined to establish a 
deadline for radio stations to convert to digital broadcasting, 22 FCC 
Rcd at 10351. Presently, radio stations may choose to commence IBOC 
digital operation pursuant to Sec.  73.404 of the Commission's rules, 
47 CFR 73.404, which requires that licensees provide notification to 
the Commission within 10 days of commencing IBOC digital operation. The 
January 29, 2010, Order allows eligible authorized FM stations to 
commence operation of FM digital facilities with digital effective 
radiated power (ERP) up to -14 dBc upon notice to the Commission on FCC 
Form 335-FM--Digital Notification. In addition, licensees must 
electronically notify the Media Bureau of any power increase in their 
FM digital ERP within 10 days of commencement using the same Form 335--
Digital Notification. However, use of the Form 335-FM for notification 
of commencement of FM hybrid digital operation, or notification of 
modification of FM digital operation, is currently limited to non-
super-powered FM stations with digital ERP not exceeding -14 dBc and 
super-powered stations with digital ERP not exceeding -20 dBc.
    Non-super-powered FM stations requesting authorization to operate 
with digital ERP between -14 dBc and -10 dBc, or super-powered FM 
stations requesting digital ERP in excess of -20 dBc are required to 
file an informal request using the Engineering STA Form prior to 
commencement of the increased power FM digital operation. Licensees 
submitting such a request must use the simplified method set forth in 
the January 29, 2010, Order to determine the station's maximum 
permissible FM digital ERP. In situations where the simplified method 
is not applicable due to unusual terrain or other technical 
considerations, the Bureau will accept applications for FM digital ERP 
in excess of -14 dBc on a case-by-case basis, when accompanied by a 
showing detailing the prediction methodology, data, maps and sample 
calculations.
    The proposed rule changes may, in some cases, impose different 
reporting or recordkeeping requirements on FM radio stations, insofar 
as they would allow certain licensees to voluntarily operate with 
asymmetric digital sideband power. However, the information that would 
be reported is already familiar to broadcasters, and is similar to the 
current IBOC digital operation notification or authorization reporting 
requirements, so any additional burdens would be minimal. The Public 
Notice tentatively concludes that it would be expedient to modify Form 
335-FM, currently used for Digital Notifications, to accommodate 
requests for increased digital power and/or operation with asymmetric 
digital sideband power.

E. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Impact on Small Entities, and 
Significant Alternatives Considered

    The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives 
that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may 
include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) The 
establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or 
timetables that take into account the resources available to small 
entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of 
compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; 
(3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an 
exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small 
entities (5 U.S.C. 603(b)).
    Operation of hybrid digital facilities by Commission licensees and 
permittees is voluntary. Likewise, use of asymmetric FM digital 
sideband powers would be limited to those licensees and permittees 
expressly seeking authorization for such operation. The proposal to 
permit use of asymmetric FM digital sideband powers thus would not 
impose any additional burden on FM broadcasters. In fact, for those FM 
broadcasters that choose to operate hybrid FM facilities, the proposal 
would confer a benefit. Currently, a significant number of FM stations 
are precluded from operating maximum permissible hybrid FM digital 
facilities. This occurs in the case of an FM station operating hybrid 
digital facilities that has a nearby FM station on one, but not both, 
of its two first-adjacent channels, thus limiting allowable digital 
power in both sidebands to a level that protects the sole limiting 
station. By permitting asymmetric FM digital sideband operation, such a 
station could increase to maximum permissible digital power on the 
sideband opposite the limiting FM station, thus achieving improved 
digital facilities and signal coverage. Because operation under the 
proposed rule is voluntary, and would only be undertaken by licensees 
and permittees that would realize a benefit from such operation, 
consideration of alternatives was not required.

F. Federal Rules Which Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Commission's Proposals

    None.

Federal Communications Commission.
Kris A. Monteith,
Deputy Chief, Media Bureau.
[FR Doc. 2011-30598 Filed 11-25-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P