FCC Oks repeaters

The FCC last week gave XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio temporary permission to build repeaters to back up their satellite radio system. XM also rescheduled the date of its Dallas and San Diego launches to Sept. 25. The National Association of Broadcasters had protested the satellite radio companies' requests for fear they would use them to enter the local radio business, but NAB expressed satisfaction with safeguards in the FCC's decision. "We're pleased the FCC has explicitly barred satellite radio companies from using their extensive high-powered terrestrial repeater network from originating local programming. We expect the final FCC rules authorizing this service will keep this prohibition," said NAB President Eddie Fritts. The FCC last week said, "It would be unfair to penalize XM [and Sirius] for complying with our required milestone schedule on the one hand, but on the other hand force it to seriously delay initiation of service because there are no final repeater rules." The FCC is expected to have final rules out by March.

Test canceled

Broadcast stations and cable systems are being asked to halt routine tests of emergency alert systems to avoid public confusion and panic. In light of a request by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the FCC said it would not sanction broadcasters and cable operators for not conducting tests through Oct. 2. The FCC said the moratorium might be extended.