The November 29, 2023, deadline is coming quickly for all broadcasters with auxiliary operations in the 12.7-13.25 GHz band, referred to as the 13 GHz band, to submit certifications of the accuracy and ongoing operations of these BAS licenses.
The FCC is in the midst of a proceeding examining whether and how to repurpose the 12.7-13.25 GHz band for new expanded use. Many crucial broadcast auxiliary services (BAS) currently use the band, including for links from studios to transmitters (STLs and TSLs), electronic newsgathering (ENG), and intercity relays (ICRs). To better understand incumbent operations in the band, the FCC issued a Public Notice requiring holders of BAS licenses in the 13 GHz band to file certifications regarding their licenses’ accuracy and operational status. Such certifications must be filed in the FCC ULS by November 29, 2023.
Certification or Modification
Broadcasters with authorizations in the 13 GHz Band will want to carefully examine the Notice in its entirety to ensure a full understanding of how the certification requirements and procedures apply to and affect their own authorizations. The below synthesizes some of the most important generally applicable aspects of the Notice; however, the following summary should not be viewed as a substitute for careful examination of the Notice itself.
• Certifications for BAS licenses must be filed in ULS. Broadcasters will need to file certifications for their affected 12.7 GHz Band authorizations in the Commission’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) as a “non-docketed pleading” associated with all BAS call signs to which the certification applies. The Notice provides more information on pages 2 and 3, including the required content for each certification. Because ULS functionality can at times be limited due to unexpected technical issues, it is strongly recommended that broadcasters not wait to the last minute to prepare and submit these filings.
• Certifications must certify (1) the present accuracy of all information reflected on the license, and (2) that the facilities are operating as authorized. A sample certification format is included at the end of the Notice as Attachment 1.
• Limited exemptions. If you applied for a new or modified license on or after January 1, 2021-including a modification request in response to the Notice-the specific call sign involved in the application is exempt from the certification requirement. To be clear, this exemption does NOT apply to applications solely for renewal.
• Some modifications permitted; also due by November 29. If you discover incorrect information on your current authorizations in the Band, the Public Notice outlines the procedures you must take to modify your authorization to reflect accurate information. Minor modifications will be permitted so long as a licensee can establish in an exhibit to the application either that (1) the modification would not add to any relocation costs, if applicable in the future, or (2) a waiver of the current filing freeze would be justified. Any other (non-minor) modifications must include a request for waiver of the freeze, and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
It is vitally important that all broadcasters with operations in the 12.7-13.25 GHz band act quickly to complete the certification process or make necessary changes prior to the November 29 deadline. If your station makes use of any BAS licenses in the Band, contact your regulatory counsel soon to ensure you are protected in the event of any further changes in the Band.