GOP commissioners at the FCC voted for the new LPFM regulations this week, but disagreed with their chairman on key points: an interim short-spacing waiver policy and the translator application cap.
Commissioners voted on an interim waiver policy that would apply to some 40 LPFMs that could be displaced as the result of streamlined city of license modifications for full-service FMs.
In a move sure to get broadcasters’ attention, the FCC tentatively concluded that full-service stations will have to provide technical and financial assistance to LPFMs if a full-service station’s “facility proposal” would cause interference to an LPFM.
In cases where no other technical remedies can be found to minimize or eliminate interference to an LPFM, the FCC “would favor those LPFMs” that have regularly provided eight hours a day of local programming over an application for a full-power station move-in, said FCC officials at the meeting.
Republican Commissioners Tate and McDowell objected to the waiver policy, which the FCC had rejected in 2005; McDowell called it a “radical departure from prior commission precedent made without sufficient public notice.”
“Clearly, the 2005 commission recognized and upheld our long-standing policy to treat full-power stations as primary to secondary services such as LPFM and FM translators,” he said. Tate could find no justification for a policy shift, noting that “low-power FM licensees provide a great service to their communities, but they accept their license knowing that they are a secondary service.”
The commission also voted to cap the number of applications still pending from the 2003 FM translator filing window to 10 proposals per applicant. Tate and McDowell said the number was too low. Tate preferred “a more measured approach, rather than an 80 percent cut, from 50 to 10.”