In a very interesting twist of events, WBBM-DT has filed a last-minute
request with the FCC to broadcast with high power on channel 12, after analog shutdown in February, 2009! The station has filed a request to run 13.8 kw (13,800 watts) at
1,700' above ground level from Sears Tower. Given the current FCC rules,
this is as high as they could go for now. As analog is shut off, stations
might be allowed to adjust their final DTV power.
As noted on AVS and seen on earlier applications for WXFT/WGBO, channel 12
is wide open for 300 miles except for some interference with WREX-DT in
Rockford, which plans to move to channel 13. And of course, we all know
that the signal would be severely hampered on channel 11.
The FCC has pushed hard over the last 2 years to get as many digital TV
stations off of VHF-LO (channels 2-6) as possible, due to all the
problems with noise and interference from numerous sources. With WBBM-DT
applying at the very last moment, it is noted that the FCC has been
granting applications that go above the .1% interference standard for
extraordinary circumstances such as this. Given WBBM-DT's track record of
being an "early adopter" of DTV technology and going to full power
quickly, and by getting off of VHF-LO with no other reasonable place to
go at this time...my guess is the application is likely to sail through
the FCC without a major hitch.
Although the signal will still be interrupted in thunderstorms and may
be hard to pick up in steel and thick concrete buildings, it will no
longer be susceptible to many forms of interference seen on the VHF-LO
band. As noted by AVS Forum and other users, at 30,000 watts, WMVS-DT,
Milwaukee's PBS station broadcasting on channel 8, can make it out 70+
miles with a much lower antenna than WBBM will have. Because WBBM's
antenna will be so high up, the FCC rules state they cannot broadcast at
that high of a power, or they will broadcast much farther than the FCC
allows. Nevertheless, with 13,800 watts, WBBM's signal in most directions
should easily go 70 miles from Sears Tower with an outdoor antenna, with
the exception of due east, thanks to a station on channel 12 broadcasting
in far northwest Ohio. Otherwise, the station has no interference from
anybody else within 306 miles. The WBBM-DT predicted coverage map attests
to that, as the coverage and request are seen here:http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/r...ent=6518723075
Thus, the proposed signal will go roughly to Kenosha on the north,
west of DeKalb on the west, just past Kankakee to the south, and to just west of South Bend on the east.
I don't know if WBBM will still use WTTW's space and equipment, but it
makes sense if they would (and make life very easy). And, as a minor
footnote, the WOCK-LD application on channel 12 may still go through,
but full power trumps the "secondary" low power TV service, so they
will be forced to move sometime after February, 2009. But in any case,
if this goes through, pop the champagne corks...in 2009, low-power WBBM is history. And quoting the late Harry Carey...
Also, look at this:http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/r...ent=6518908204
WREX has requested to go high power on channel 13, but says it will work with WBBM to avoid interference; however, WREX claims that by going 12 kw, they won't interfere with WBBM at high power.
But WBBM-DT doesn't like that too much, as it appears to interfere with them a bit:http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/r...ent=6518912330
Again, a reminder: the channel change is NOT official yet; but it looks good for both WREX-DT and WBBM-DT, both with terrible circumstances currently, to come out winning huge in 2009. Thanks to AVS forum users Afiggett and Nitewatchman for revealing to the world that all of this has now been posted on the FCC's ECFS web site; all this information has come from them (and the FCC, of course). Link to their discoveries and discussion here:http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...=823166&page=2
Look at the bottom of the page.