FCC Fine-Tunes LPFM Rules; NAB Says 'So What?'

FCC Fine-Tunes LPFM Rules; NAB Says 'So What?'
Author:
Publish date:

The FCC has tweaked its order that would create a new class of low-power
FM stations and says some of the new stations may be on the air by the end
of the year.
The changes create a procedure to resolve interference complaints from
listeners of existing radio stations and add additional protection for
existing FMs that provide radio reading services to the blind.
The FCC did not require LPFMs to provide 3rd adjacent channel protection
to existing stations.
"It's clear the FCC is trying to pick off LPFM opponents one-by-one, but
they still haven't addressed the interference concerns of millions of radio
listeners and this order doesn't change NAB's position," said NAB Spokesman
Jeff Bobeck.
In response to requests from National Public Radio and Radio Reading
Services, the commission adopted an exception that provides additional
protection to radio reading services transmitted by FM subcarriers. Pending
a reading radio receiver performance study, the
FCC will require LPFMs to meet 3rd adjacent channel spacing standards to
protect existing station providing these services.
During a Saturday panel on the future of radio, broadcasters referred to
the "preferentrial" treatment given the FM subcarrier businesses of
non-commercial stations over that of commercial stations.
Senator Ron Wyden, D.-Ore., said at the Congressional Breakfast Saturday
at The NAB Radio Show that NPR was pleased with the commission's changes.
NPR was concerned that interference from LPFMs would hinder its translators
ability to receive and re-transmit signals. Likewise, the reading services
are worried about interference to its receivers.
The FCC is testing such receivers, and says until those tests are
complete, it won't allocate LPFMs that would not meet channel separation
requirements to existing stations.
"Translators are a big deal for those of us who represent rural areas,"
said Wyden.
While saying the FCC made a mistake in not spending more time
collaborating with public broadcasters on the issue, Wyden said the LPFM issue need not be fractious.
The process to resolve interference complaints has been spelled out.
After the LPFMs are on the air, if existing stations receive interference
complaints from on percent of its listeners in its coverage area, the
mechanism to resolve the dispute kicks in. FCC field agents would try to
help the existing stations identify the interference source and resolve the
problem. If the stations involved can't resolve the problem, the FCC would
begin a modification procedure to resolve the dispute within 90 days.
NAB continues to appeal what it says is the FCC's refusal to acknowledge
station's listeners beyond their protected service contours.
An FCC official said the commission recognizes stations have listeners
outside their protected service contour, but needs to balance that against
providing a new radio service.
Leslie Stimson

Related