FCC Denies Fox Affiliate Waiver for Digital Signal-Strength Test

Fox Affiliate WSMH-DT Fint, Mich. cannot extend their SHVERA testing waiver after a denial from the FCC claims that WSMH-DT has failed to prove their signal coverage is limited.

The FCC has denied a request from Fox affiliate WSMH-DT Fint, Mich., for another waiver of the FCC's digital signal-strength test.

Satellite operators can import a similar distant DTV-station signal to viewers who cannot receive a sufficiently strong signal from their local affiliate,

based on satellite-company testing of those signals


As of Oct. 31, satellite companies could test that strength, and deliver an out-of-market Fox affiliate to viewers in WSMH's market who do not get a sufficiently strong signal from that station.

WSMH has already received a waiver based on the fact that it had cross-border coordination issues with Canada, and then asked for an extension. But while that extension was pending, Canada gave its approval, said the FCC. Now, WSMH says it needs to move to a new tower and clear that with Canada as well.

"We do not believe that Wash’s decision to file an application for modification of its construction permit immediately after grant of its application warrants a further extension of the SHVERA testing waiver," the FCC said.  "Accordingly, we conclude that WSMH has failed to demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that its station’s digital signal coverage is limited due to the irremediable need for international coordination or approvals."

The FCC pointed out that Wash’s signal reaches 99% of its analog coverage area.

A number of stations asked for waivers of the testing, including stations in New York affected by the 9/11 attacks that destroyed their facilities atop the World Trade Center.

The FCC allows waivers for a variety of reasons, including zoning or environmental impediments, cutting power so as not to interfere with first-responders and "force majeure," which WNBC New York invoked, for example, the legal term (French for "greater force") that covers unforeseeable events like hurricanes, floods and terrorist attacks.