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Channel Spacing Is Concern as FCC Crafts More LPFM Rules

Low-power advocates want second-adjacent channel spacing waivers, while broadcasters urge commission to show restraint

One of the main points low-power FM advocate Prometheus Radio Project has made to the FCC as the agency crafts expanded service rules for LPFMs concerns second-adjacent waivers.

Prometheus representatives say a second-adjacent frequency waiver standard modeled after the FM translator rules is appropriate. Current second-adjacent frequency restrictions keep LPFM stations out of urban areas because of lack of frequency space, according to the advocacy group.


EMF Not Keen on FM Translator Cap

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Prometheus Lobbies FCC on LPFM

NAB opposes any relaxation of the second-adjacent channel spacing requirements. NAB executives have reiterated to FCC officials that the broadcast lobby interprets the Local Community Radio Act as prohibiting the commission from reducing the minimum second-adjacent channel distance separation requirements between low-power and full-service FM stations, but permits waivers under certain circumstances.

NAB believes such waivers should be considered only in “truly exceptional circumstances,” according to a summary of their conversation.

NPR too urged the agency to only issue such waivers under limited circumstances “as Congress intended so that newly constructed LPFM stations are not forced to ameliorate interference problems, including terminating service,” the broadcaster wrote in a summary of a lobbying visit.

NPR cautioned the FCC to be careful not to upset the balance of interests as it facilitates additional LPFM service yet also protects primary and existing secondary broadcast service from interference.

LPFM advocates Prometheus Radio project and the Amherst Alliance support the concept of the commission approving second-adjacent channel spacing waivers more routinely.

NPR also raised concerns about “significant alterations” to the LPFM service rules, in particular authorizing 250 watt LPFMs, which would depart from the LPFM service Congress envisioned when it authorized the service, according to NPR. LPFM advocates want their stations to have more power.