Modified DTS Rules Take Effect This Month

The FCC’s modified technical rules for Distributed Transmission Systems (“DTS”) will take effect in late May. The FCC modified the DTS rules to afford greater flexibility and clarity, and to allow broadcasters to enhance their signal capabilities and fill coverage gaps.

DTS is a transmission system that uses two or more sites in a television station’s service area, with each site transmitting on the same channel. Under the prior standard, DTS signals were limited to a “minimal amount” of spillover. Under the new technical standard, the FCC replaced the subjective spillover standard with bright-line, service-based rules, as follows:

  • For UHF Stations: The 41 dBu of the DTS transmitter cannot exceed the reference station’s 41 dBu F(50,50) contour
    • 41 dBu F(50,50) is defined as the boundary at which a signal is predicted to exceed 41 dBu at 50% of locations 50% of the time

  • For High VHF Stations: The 36 dBu of the DTS transmitter cannot exceed the reference station’s 36 dBu F(50,50) contour
    • 36 dBu F(50,50) is defined as the boundary at which a signal is predicted to exceed 36 dBu at 50% of locations 50% of the time

  • For Low VHF Stations: The 28 dBu of the DTS transmitter cannot exceed the reference station’s 28 dBu F(50,50) contour
    • 28 dBu F(50,50) is defined as the boundary at which a signal is predicted to exceed 28 dBu at 50% of locations 50% of the time

  • For Class A, LPTV, or TV Translator Stations: The F(50,50) of the DTS transmitter must be fully contained within the station’s authorized F(50,50) contour

The FCC also eliminated the requirement that Class A, LPTV, and television translator stations apply for DTS facilities on an experimental basis.

Finally, although the permitted area for DTS spillover will increase, a station’s area of interference protection will not expand.

Most of the rule modifications will become effective May 24, 2021.

For more information or questions regarding the amendments to these rules and their effect on television broadcasters, please contact any attorney in our office.

Categories: Broadcast and Media

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