Hatfield & Dawson provides engineering consulting services nationwide for a wide range of broadcast clients, from non-commercial stations and stand-alone operations to large broadcast groups.
These services include:
FM Auction Allotment Review
Hatfield & Dawson are among the world's most experienced and knowledgeable engineers in medium wave allocation, propagation, and antenna design and implementation matters. The firm's principal engineers have pioneered the use of modern computational analysis methods to ensure that the design and implementation of medium wave antennas is as economical as possible. As a result, we have successfully designed antennas that met their design specifications without any incremental adjustment requirements. Our experience extends from low power AM systems for sports stadiums, airports, and college campuses, to the million-watt transmitting systems of the Voice of America.
For AM broadcasters, our services include allocation studies for new stations and station modifications, partial- and full-proof-of-performance field strength measurements, FCC application preparation, and on-site measurements and inspections. Our staff has extensive experience with diplexed and even triplexed AM station operations, including system implementation and tune-up.
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Our location in the western United States has given us a large amount of experience with VHF and UHF radio propagation under a huge variety of circumstances. As a consequence, we have expertise in the analysis and design of FM transmission facilities under almost every conceivable circumstance. We use automated propagation calculation techniques, measurement, and theoretical analysis to evaluate proposed facilities as well as to optimize existing ones. Our experience in numerical analysis methods allows us to predict the performance of antenna systems with a high degree of reliability.
Because we have been attentive to FM allocation matters over virtually the entire history of FM broadcasting, we have a record of solving unusual allocation situations, including the unique challenges associated with allocation matters along the Canadian and Mexican borders. Our experience in the use of field measurement data and propagation calculations in FM licensing cases is equally extensive.
For FM broadcasters, our services include allocation studies for new stations and station modifications, FCC application preparation, and on-site measurements and inspections.
Our staff has extensive experience with complicated FM allotment rulemaking cases, many of which involve multiple stations and allotments. Typical FM rulemaking projects over the past ten years have included
- "Drop-in" FM allotments for numerous communities, including Clatskanie, OR; Sunriver, OR; Valdez, AK; Wasilla, AK; King Salmon, AK; Waitsburg, WA; and McCall, ID.
- On behalf of venture capital firms, due diligence technical review of numerous FM reallotment schemes planned by other parties in markets such as Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Phoenix. These reviews have often revealed technical deficiencies in time for modification of the reallotment plans prior to FCC filing.
- Reallotment of KAYO-FM from Aberdeen, WA to Elma, WA, for improved service into the Seattle-Tacoma market.
- Reallotment of KFMY-FM from Raymond, WA to Oakville, WA, for improved service into the Seattle-Tacoma market.
- Upgrade of KHYF-FM Taos, NM to Class C for improved wide-area coverage.
- Reallotment of KZOL-FM from Merced, CA to North Fork, CA, for new service into the Fresno market. Hatfield & Dawson provided all technical conceptual planning and FCC proposal and application work through to FCC licensing.
- Upgrade of stations KZTA-FM Naches, WA and KZTB-FM Sunnyside, WA, two first-adjacent Class A stations with a grandfathered short-spaced relationship operating in the same market at Yakima, WA. KZTA-FM was upgraded to Class C2 from an advantageous transmitter site, and KZTB-FM was relocated to Benton City in the Tri-Cities, WA market.
- Reallotment of WBBF-FM from Avon, NY to Fairport, NY, for improved service into the Rochester market.
- Reallotment of KRSK-FM from Salem, OR to Molalla, OR, for improved service into the Portland market. KRSK-FM now operates from the Skyline tower as a native Portland market signal.
- Reallotment of KXXQ-FM from Grants, NM to Milan, NM, for improved service into the Gallup market.
- Reallotment of KOTR-FM from Chester, CA to Westwood, CA, to permit use of an advantageous transmitter site.
- Reallotment of KLZY-FM from Powell, WY to Park City, MT, for new service into the Billings market. This rulemaking involved modification of one other station.
- Reallotment of KHTN-FM from Los Banos, CA to Planada, CA, for improved service into the Merced market from an advantageous transmitter site.
- Reallotment of KEUG-FM from Cottage Grove, OR to Veneta, OR, for greatly improved service into the Eugene market from the market's primary transmitter site. This rulemaking involved modification of two other stations. Hatfield & Dawson provided all technical conceptual planning and FCC proposal and application work through to FCC licensing. KEUG-FM is now one of the Top-5 rated stations in the market.
- Reallotment of KOLW-FM from Othello, WA to Basin City, WA, for new service into the Tri-Cities market.
- Reallotment of KAST-FM from Astoria, OR to Gladstone, OR, for new service into the Portland market. This proposal involved modifications to six existing stations. Hatfield & Dawson provided conceptual plan design and all engineering support for the rulemaking filing.
- Reallotment of KSND-FM from Lincoln City, OR to Monmouth, OR, for new service into the Salem area, an appendage of the Portland market.
- Reallotment of WFEZ-FM from Freeland, PA to Avoca, PA, for new service into the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market. This rulemaking involved modification of one other station.
- Reallotment of KLAK-FM from Durant, OK to Tom Bean, TX, for improved service into the north Dallas/Fort Worth market.
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FM Auction Allotment Review
Now that the FCC has begun broadcast spectrum auctions, it is vitally important to conduct an engineering review of any FM allotment on which one intends to bid. In connection with the FM Auction #37 held at the end of 2004, our staff performed engineering review of dozens of the 258 allotments up for auction. Among them we found
- Allotments from which it would be technically impossible to provide the required level of service to the community of license.
- Allotments with significant upgrade potential on an adjacent channel.
- Allotments that were the subject of pending channel change rulemakings, including one which would move the allotment from a channel usable at an existing transmitter site to a channel that would require a complete new site build-out, thereby greatly increasing the implementation cost.
- Allotments that would have significant problems with interference received from co-channel and first-adjacent-channel stations.
- Allotments at communities near rated markets, but site restricted such that no meaningful service could be provided to the nearby market.
During the course of the auction, we witnessed numerous withdrawals of multiple-hundred-thousand-dollar bids, which potentially opened up the parties making those withdrawals to default payments in the tens-of-thousands of dollars (at the very least). While some of those bid withdrawals may have been strategic, we know of numerous cases where the bidder realized too late that the allotment they were bidding on did not have the potential they assumed. Pre-auction technical review would have easily revealed these deficiencies.
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Many of the same factors that make up our expertise for FM broadcasting apply to television as well. In addition, our techniques for appropriate antenna design and specification for UHF television allow confident prediction of facility performance.
For TV broadcasters, our services include allocation studies for analog and digital stations, FCC application preparation, and on-site measurements and inspections.
Hatfield & Dawson has been involved with digital television station allocation and application work.
- Digital TV station application work for stations in numerous communities nationwide including: Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Spokane, WA; Dallas, TX; Corvallis, OR; Yakima, WA; Tri-Cities, WA; Lander, WY; La Grande, OR; Klamath Falls, OR; and Medford, OR.
- Rulemaking to substitute DTV Channel 8 for DTV Channel 39 at Spokane, WA for KSPS-TV, to permit equivalent operation with a much lower power level.
- For the Spokane, WA area television broadcasters, a complete redesign of the Spokane DTV allocations. The redesigned channel plan was accepted by the FCC in its entirety.
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Brokers and financial institutions are experts at financial analysis. Brokers know that financial details supplied by sellers need to be verifiable and believable. If they aren't, the broker's reputation and relationship with the buyer can be destroyed. Financial institutions know that if they finance a transaction whose basic value assumptions are invalid, they can lose the basis for their security instruments.
It's much harder for brokers and buyers and their representatives to analyze the technical and administrative details of a broadcast or communications property. Frequently, buyers use their own personnel to make these evaluations. This doesn't always give the broker or financial institution enough information to be completely informed--or to be protected against possible future problems.
An even greater problem is evaluation of potential facility improvements. Blue sky representations by sellers may turn out to be very dark and stormy realities for a purchaser.
There are substantial benefits to be gained from a thorough technical review of a proposed transaction. Some are obvious; equipment condition and suitability can often be evaluated easily. What's much more difficult to determine are subtle problems that can be disclosed only by a careful inspection of facilities or licensing documents. Here are a few of the kinds of problems we've uncovered.
- Stations with transmitter sites built at locations different than the authorized locations--sometimes by several miles.
- Stations operating with more than licensed power--sometimes by as much as four or five times the allowable power.
- Stations operating with Special Temporary Authority whose basis is very different than disclosed by the seller.
- Stations relying on coverage from unlicensed or illegally operating translators or boosters.
- Stations whose sale price has been substantially discounted for alleged technical deficiencies that are simply not true.
- Stations with non-ionizing radiation emissions or PCB leaks that violate applicable Federal law.
Due diligence technical inspections cost very little. You wouldn't broker or finance a real estate transaction without a title search. You shouldn't broker or finance a communications property transaction without a thorough review of the licensing details and technical facilities by a qualified expert.
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