As we all know, last June the Commission adopted its massive Report and Order setting out the rules for implementation of the spectrum incentive auction. The auction, of course, is one element of a major reorganization of the spectrum in which (among other things) television stations will be “repacked” into a narrower portion of the spectrum. The repacking affects more than just TV licensees. Wireless microphones and other licensed low power auxiliary stations (LPASs) are allowed to operate on unused TV channels on a secondary, non-exclusive basis, so reduction in TV channels reduces LPAS opportunities as well — a special problem for wireless microphone users in congested areas.

Deep in the fine print of the magnum opus, the FCC – concerned about the impact that the re-pack will likely have on LPASs, and wireless microphones in particular – sought to ensure that LPAS licensees would have access to as many TV channels as possible post-repack.

One way to achieve that was to permit LPAS operation co-channel with TV stations at distances less than those specified in Section 74.802(a) of the Commission’s rules, provided such use was coordinated in advance. To that end, Section 74.802(b) was revised to read: 

Low power auxiliary stations may operate closer to co-channel TV broadcast stations than the distances specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section provided that their operations are coordinated with TV broadcast stations that could be affected by the low power auxiliary station operation. Coordination must be completed prior to operation of the low power auxiliary station.

While portions of the incentive auction Report and Order became effective last October, the revised Section 74.802(b) did not because it had to be run through the Paperwork Reduction Act drill at the Office of Management and Budget. According to a notice published in the Federal Register. that process has been completed, OMB has given its thumbs up, and the revised Section 74.802(b) is effective as of April 1, 2015.