As the FCC continues to clear the decks in preparation for the low-power FM application window which is now underway, the agency denied four remaining petitions for reconsideration of its LPFM rules and partially granted a fifth petition from Prometheus Radio Project. To protect FM translators and FM boosters from possible interference from LPFMs, the FCC has made what it considers minor revisions to the rule that protects the input signals of those FM translators and boosters.
The petitions addressed LPFM eligibility requirements, whether to identify and award construction permits to “secondary” grantees, protection standards for FM translator input signals, protection requirements toward LPFM stations operating with reduced power and periodic announcements by LPFM stations regarding potential interference. One petition addressed the decisions to eliminate the LP10 service class and decline adoption of an LP50 service class, we’ve reported.
The FCC says the petitions it dismissed either repeated earlier arguments that were already considered and rejected or raised issues beyond the scope of the proceeding. Five petitions for reconsideration were filed. They were from: Prometheus Radio Project, REC Networks, LifeTalk Radio, Michael Couzens and Alan Korn and Let the Cities In!! The commission partially granted the suggestion from Prometheus regarding the protection of input signals for FM translators and boosters.
To protect FM translators and boosters from potential LPFM interference, the FCC prohibited locating LPFMs within the “potential interference area” — that is, near an FM translator that receives an off-air input signal on a third-adjacent channel to an LPFM. The requirement applied to both full-service FMs and translators. LPFMs were exempt if they could prove they wouldn’t cause harmful interference to either the FM or translator.
To help LPFM applicants to comply, the commission had recommended that FM translator licensees update the information concerning their input signals if they have changed that information since their last such notification.
Prometheus noticed the change created a discrepancy. The National Translator Association, Educational Media Foundation and NPR agreed with Prometheus that the rule change “appears to inadvertently exclude input signals from FM translators,” according to the decision.
The commission agrees there should be an update, to see the changes see pages 7–9 beginning with paragraph 17.
Regarding the elimination of the LP10 service class, the FCC had said last December LP10s would be an inefficient use of spectrum because such low-power stations would struggle economically and be more susceptible to interference than LP100s. “Given the increasingly crowded nature of the FM band, the commission found it appropriate to take this into account,” the agency said. It decided against licensing LP50s for similar reasons.
We’ve reported Let the Cities In!! had said the lower-power LPFMs were the only way some large cities would get new LPFM service. The commission said this week in light of the significant record and the agency’s expertise on this issue, it sticks by its original decision and will not be licensing LP10s.