KWSV’s approved pattern in green with the supplemental booster reinforcing within the red pattern.
The FCC’s rapid expansion of FM translator and booster services now includes the world of low-power FM stations.
REC Networks founder and LPFM advocate Michelle Bradley shares the news with us that for the first time the FCC has granted booster stations to two LPFMs in southern California.
The advocacy side of REC Networks filed the FM booster applications for KWSV(LP) in Simi Valley, Calif., and KXRN(LP) in Laguna Beach, Calif., according to a statement on REC’s website. The FCC gave its final approval to the requests last week.
FM boosters are FM transmission facilities that broadcast on the same channel as the primary station that it is broadcasting. In this case, according to REC Networks, the LPFMs are considered the primary channels. FM boosters, considered a secondary service, are normally used by full-service FM broadcast stations in order to “fill in” an area that because of terrain is not able to receive the primary station’s broadcast signal.
In an online statement, REC Networks gave a brief history of its FCC filings and reasons why it believed an FM booster for two low-power FMs should be acceptable to the commission.
“In 2009, an organization called Great God Gospel & Educational Station Inc. filed a request for an FM booster for use by station WITG(LP) in Ocala, Fla. The FCC denied the application citing that because of the cross-ownership rules at the time, LPFM stations cannot own other media holdings such as FM translators and boosters. During the appeal process WITG(LP) claimed that the FM booster was not a translator but instead was merely an extension of the existing station. At review, the full commission upheld the Audio Division’s denial of WITG(LP)’s application.
“In 2015, REC Networks and Strategic International Ministries filed the booster application for KWSV(LP). In the waiver request, REC stated that contrary to WITG(LP)’s argument, an FM booster is like a translator and actually, it is more spectrum efficient since it uses the same channel as the primary LPFM station,” according to REC Networks’ website.
Mountainous terrain near each California station played a role in the FCC’s decision to grant the constriction permits for the FM booster stations, according to REC Networks, which described the area surrounding KWSV(LP) in Simi Valley.
“The area to the east of the station is blocked by higher terrain. KWSV(LP) identified a site in the Chatsworth Hills that could be used for a translator to reach the San Fernando Valley. The site will operate six watts into a directional antenna pointed to the southeast and should provide coverage in the San Fernando Valley west of the 405 San Diego Freeway,” REC says.
KXRN’s approved pattern in green with the supplemental booster reinforcing within the red pattern.
Similar conditions exist for KXRN(LP) in Laguna Beach, according to REC: “Because of the mountainous terrain along the Pacific Coast highway to the south towards San Clemente, there is terrain that goes all the way to the coast thus blocking the KXRN signal south of that point. Because of KXRN(LP)’s low level and low height above average terrain due to flatter lands to the north, KXRN’s protected contour is nearly a perfect 5.6-kilometer circle, including in the blocked area to the south.
“A site overlooking the area to the south of the blocking terrain was identified and with a 10 W signal into a directional antenna beamed towards the ocean, KXRN(LP) will be able to fill-in their service area without the protected contour of the booster going outside of the primary station's contour on land (it’s OK over the sea, just not on land).”
Bradley notes the FCC’s recent actions won’t bring a flood of requests for boosters from LPFM broadcasters because “few LPFM stations qualify for boosters without very unique terrain” and a compelling situation.
“I still believe that for 95% of the LPFM stations out there, a booster will not work,” Bradley says.