47 CFR § 73.684 - Prediction of coverage.

§ 73.684 Prediction of coverage.

(a) All predictions of coverage made pursuant to this section shall be made without regard to interference and shall be made only on the basis of estimated field strengths. The peak power of the visual signal is used in making predictions of coverage.

(b) Predictions of coverage shall be made only for the same purposes as relate to the use of field strength contours as specified in § 73.683(c).

(c) In predicting the distance to the field strength contours, the F (50,50) field strength charts (Figures 9 and 10 of § 73.699) shall be used. If the 50% field strength is defined as that value exceeded for 50% of the time, these F (50,50) charts give the estimated 50% field strengths exceeded at 50% of the locations in dB above 1 uV/m. The charts are based on an effective power of 1 kW radiated form a half-wave dipole in free space, which produces an unattenuated field strength at 1.61 kilometers (1 mile) of about 103 dB above 1 uV/m. To use the charts to predict the distance to a given contour, the following procedure is used: Convert the effective radiated power in kilowatts for the appropriate azimuth into decibel value referenced to 1 kW (dBu). If necessary, convert the selected contour to the decibel value (dBu) above 1 microvolt per meter (1 uV/m). Subtract the power value in dBk from the contour value in dBu. Note that for power less than 1 kW, the difference value will be greater than the contour value because the power in dBk is negative. Locate the difference value obtained on the vertical scale at the left edge of the chart. Follow the horizontal line for that value into the chart to the point of intersection with the vertical line above the height of the antenna above average terrain for the appropriate azimuth located on the scale at the bottom of the chart. If the point of intersection does not fall exactly on a distance curve, interpolate between the distance curves below and above the intersection point. The distance values for the curves are located along the right edge of the chart.

(1) In predicting the distance to the Grade A and Grade B field strength contours, the effective radiated power to be used is that radiated at the vertical angle corresponding to the depression angle between the transmitting antenna center of radiation and the radio horizon as determined individually for each azimuthal direction concerned. The depression angle is based on the difference in elevation of the antenna center of radiation above the average terrain and the radio horizon, assuming a smooth sperical earth with a radius of 8,495.5 kilometers (5,280 miles) and shall be determined by the following equation:

A = 0.0277√ H
A is the depression angle in degrees.
H is the height in meters of the transmitting antenna radiation center above average terrain of the 3.2-16.1 kilometers (2-10 miles) sector of the pertinent radial.
This formula is empirically derived for the limited purpose specified here. Its use for any other purpose may be inappropriate.

(2) In case where the relative field strength at the depression angle determined by the above formula is 90% or more of the maximum field strength developed in the vertical plane containing the pertaining radial, the maximum radiation shall be used.

(3) In predicting field strengths for other than the Grade A and Grade B contours, the effective radiated power to be used is to be based on the appropriate antenna vertical plane radiation pattern for the azimuthal direction concerned.

(4) Applicants for new TV stations or changes in the facilities of existing TV stations must submit to the FCC a showing as to the location of their stations' or proposed stations' predicted Grade A and Grade B contours, determined in accordance with § 73.684. This showing is to include maps showing these contours, except where applicants have previously submitted material to the FCC containing such information and it is found upon careful examination that the contour locations indicated therein would not change, on any radial, when the locations are determined under this Section. In the latter cases, a statement by a qualified engineer to this effect will satisfy this requirement and no contour maps need be submitted.

(d) The antenna height to be used with these charts is the height of the radiation center of the antenna above the average terrain along the radial in question. In determining the average elevation of the terrain, the elevations between 3.2-16.1 kilometers (2-10 miles) from the antenna site are employed. Profile graphs shall be drawn for 8 radials beginning at the antenna site and extending 16.1 kilometers (10 miles) therefrom. The radials should be drawn for each 45 degrees of azimuth starting with the True North. At least one radial must include the principal community to be served even though such community may be more than 16.1 kilometers (10 miles) from the antenna site. However, in the event none of the evenly spaced radials include the principal community to be served and one or more such radials are drawn in addition to the 8 evenly spaced radials, such additional radials shall not be employed in computing the antenna height above average terrain. Where the 3.2-16.1 kilometers (2-10 mile) portion of a radial extends in whole or in part over large bodies of water as specified in paragraph (e) of this section or extends over foreign territory but the Grade B strength contour encompasses land area within the United States beyond the 16.1 kilometers (10 mile) portion of the radial, the entire 3.2-16.1 kilometers (2-10 mile) portion of the radial shall be included in the computation of antenna height above average terrian. However, where the Grade B contour does not so encompass United States land area and (1) the entire 3.2-16.1 kilometers (2-10 mile) portion of the radial extends over large bodies of water of foreign territory, such radial shall be completely omitted from the computation of antenna height above average terrain, and (2) where a part of the 3.2-16.1 kilometers (2-10 mile) portion of a radial extends over large bodies of water or over foreign territory, only that part of the radial extending from the 3.2 kilometer (2 mile) sector to the outermost portion of land area within the United States covered by the radial shall be employed in the computation of antenna height above average terrian. The profile graph for each radial should be plotted by contour intervals of from 12.2-30.5 meters (40-100 feet) and, where the data permits, at least 50 points of elevation (generally uniformly spaced) should be used for each radial. In instances of very rugged terrain where the use of contour intervals of 30.5 meters (100 feet) would result in several points in a short distance, 61.0-122.0 meter (200-400 foot) contour intervals may be used for such distances. On the other hand, where the terrain is uniform or gently sloping the smallest contour interval indicated on the topograhic may (see paragraph (g) of this section) should be used, although only relatively few points may be available. The profile graphs should indicate the topography accurately for each radial, and the graphs should be plotted with the distance in kilometers as the abscissa and the elevation in meters above mean sea level as the ordinate. The profile graphs should indicate the source of the topographical data employed. The graph should also show the elevation of the center of the radiating system. The graph may be plotted either on rectangular coordinate paper or on special paper which shows the curvature of the earth. It is not necessary to take the curvature of the earth into consideration in this procedure, as this factor is taken care of in the charts showing signal strengths. The average elevation of the 12.9 kilometer (8 miles) distance between 3.2-16.1 kilometers (2-10 miles) from the antenna site should then be determined from the profile graph for each radial. This may be obtained by averaging a large number of equally spaced points, by using a planimeter, or by obtaining the median elevation (that exceeded for 50% of the distance) in sectors and averaging those values.


The Commission will, upon a proper showing by an existing station that the application of this rule will result in an unreasonable power reduction in relation to other stations in close proximity, consider requests for adjustment in power on the basis of a common average terrain figure for the stations in question as determined by the FCC.

(e) In instance where it is desired to determine the area in square kilometers within the Grade A and Grade B field strength contours, the area may be determined from the coverage map by planimeter or other approximate means; in computing such areas, exclued (1) areas beyond the borders of the United States, and (2) large bodies of water, such as ocean areas, gulfs sounds, bays, large lakes, etc., but not rivers.

(f) In cases where terrain in one or more directions from the antenna site departs widely from the average elevation of the 3.2 to 16.1 kilometers (2 to 10 mile) sector, the prediction method may indicate contour distances that are different from what may be expected in practice. For example, a mountain ridge may indicate the practical limit of service although the prediction method may indicate otherwise. In such case the prediction method should be followed, but a supplemental showing may be made concerning the contour distances as determined by other means. Such supplemental showing should describe the procedure employed and should include sample calculations. Maps of predicted coverage should include both the coverage as predicted by the regular method and as predicted by a supplemental method. When measurements of area are required, these should include the area obtained by the regular predicted method and the area obtained by the supplemental method. In directions where the terrain is such that negative antenna heights or heights below 30.5 meters (100 feet) for the 3.2 to 16.1 kilometers (2 to 10 mile) sector are obtained, an assumed height of 30.5 meters (100 feet) shall be used for the prediction of coverage. However, where the actual contour distances are critical factors, a supplemental showing of expected coverage must be included together with a description of the method employed in predicting such coverage. In special cases, the Commission may require additional information as to terrain and coverage.

(g) In the preparation of the profile graph previously described, and in determining the location and height above sea level of the antenna site, the elevation or contour intervals shall be taken from the United States Geological Survey Topographic Quadrangle Maps, United States Army Corps of Engineers' maps or Tennessee Valley Authority maps, whichever is the latest, for all areas for which such maps are available. If such maps are not published for the area in question, the next best topographic information should be used. Topographic data may sometimes be obtained from State and Municipal agencies. Data from Sectional Aeronautical Charts (including bench marks) or railroad depot elevations and highway elevations from road maps may be used where no better information is available. In cases where limited topographic data is available, use may be made of an altimeter in a car driven along roads extending generally radially from the transmitter site. Ordinarily the Commission will not require the submission of topographical maps for areas beyond 24.1 kilometers (15 miles) from the antenna site, but the maps must include the principal community to be served. If it appears necessary, additional data may be requested. United States Geological Survey Topographic Quadrangle Maps may be obtained from the United States Geological Survey, Department of the Interior, Washington, DC 20240. Sectional Aeronautical Charts are available from the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20235. In lieu of maps, the average terrain elevation may be computer generated, except in the cases of dispute, using elevations from a 30 second point or better topographic data file. The file must be identified and the data processed for intermediate points along each radial using linear interpolation techniques. The height above mean sea level of the antenna site must be obtained manually using appropriate topographic maps.

(h) The effect of terrain roughness on the predicted field strength of a signal at points distant from a television broadcast station is assumed to depend on the magnitude of a terrain roughness factor (Δ h) which, for a specific propagation path, is determined by the characteristics of a segment of the terrain profile for that path 40.2 kilometers (25 miles) in length, located between 9.7 and 49.9 kilometers (6 and 31 miles) from the transmitter. The terrain roughness factor has a value equal to the difference, in meters, between elevations exceeded by all points on the profile for 10 percent and 90 percent, respectively, of the length of the profile segment (see § 73.699, Fig. 10d).

(i) If the lowest field strength value of interest is initially predicted to occur over a particular propagation path at a distance which is less than 49.9 kilometers (31 miles) from the transmitter, the terrain profile segment used in the determination of the terrain roughness factor over that path shall be that included between points 9.7 kilometers (6 miles) from the transmitter and such lesser distance. No terrain roughness correction need be applied when all field strength values of interest are predicted to occur 9.7 kilometers (6 miles) or less from the transmitter.

(j) Profile segments prepared for terrain roughness factor determinations should be plotted in rectangular coordinates, with no less than 50 points evenly spaced within the segment, using data obtained from topographic maps, if available, with contour intervals of 15.2 meters (50 feet), or less.

(k) The field strength charts (§ 73.699, Figs. 9-10c) were developed assuming a terrain roughness factor of 50 meters, which is considered to be representative of average terrain in the United States. Where the roughness factor for a particular propagation path is found to depart appreciably from this value, a terrain roughness correction (ΔF) should be applied to field strength values along this path as predicted with the use of these charts. The magnitude and sign of this correction, for any value of Δh, may be determined from a chart included in § 73.699 as Figure 10e, with linear interpolation as necessary, for the frequency of the UHF signal under consideration.

(l) Alternatively, the terrain roughness correction may be computed using the following formula:

ΔF=C−0.03(Δh)(1 + f/300)
ΔF = terrain roughness correction in dB
C = a constant having a specific value for use with each set of field strength charts:
1.9 for TV Channels 2-6
2.5 for TV Channels 7-13
4.8 for TV Channels 14-69
Δh = terrain roughness factor in meters
f = frequency of signal in megahertz (MHz)
[28 FR 13660, Dec. 13, 1963, as amended at 40 FR 27683, July 1, 1975; 44 FR 36039, June 20, 1979; 48 FR 44807, Sept. 30, 1983; 50 FR 23699, June 5, 1985; 51 FR 26251, July 22, 1986; 52 FR 36879, Oct. 1, 1987]
Effective Date Note:
At 42 FR 25736, May 19, 1977, in § 73.684, paragraphs (k) and (l) were stayed indefinitely.