In two recent cases, the FCC discussed the issue of "blanketing interference," the interference that can be caused by a broadcaster to electronic devices that are located in homes and businesses near to the station’s transmitter site. In the first case, the FCC rejected a license renewal challenge finding that there was no specific showing of interference to protected RF devices. The FCC appends to this decision a guide to the types of interference which a broadcaster must resolve. In the second case, the Commission also denied a complaint filed against the renewal application of a radio station based on the interference that it allegedly caused in nearby homes. Here, the Commission published a set of Guidelines as an appendix to the decision – guidelines which help clarify the procedures that a broadcaster should go through to assess its responsibility to remedy interference complaints. Together, the attachments to these two cases should give stations guidance on what they should do if they get complaints of blanketing interference.
Essentially, broadcasters are required to resolve all complaints of blanketing interference which occur within a station’s "blanketing contour" (1V/m for AM stations, 115 dBu or 562 mV/m contour for FM stations) during the first year of a station’s operation from a particular transmitter site to "RF devices." These include radios, TVs, and VCRs with tuners in them. Licensees are not required to resolve complaints to mobile receivers. Telephones, phonographs, tape recorders or devices using high gain antennas also are not covered. After the first year, stations, while not fully financially liable, do have the responsibility to provide information and assistance about how to resolve the interference to the person who is suffering that interference. The Appendix to the second case states that licensees will have to respond to all complaints filed with the FCC and provide details of what they have done to address interference complaints. So broadcasters should be aware of their responsibilities, and take appropriate actions based on the guidelines set out by the FCC.