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LPFM Reactions: Conexus’ Take

LPFM advocate agrees with much of the FCC decision and plans to continue efforts to increase LPFM power

This is the text of a reaction from LPFM industry advocate Conexus to the FCC’s Friday ruling concerning LPFMs. See FCC Acts on LPFM, FM Translators for information on the ruling.

With the highly anticipated release of new rules shaping the future of LPFM radio, Conexus is proud to have been a part of this process. The LPFM community has come together to express its support for the LPFM service. While the FCC has made great strides with this latest R&O, and moving forward towards and October 2013 filing window, we feel a few items were swept under the proverbial rug. However, this decision is not necessarily without good reason and I don’t believe ill intent from the commission.

The LP10 class was never implemented. The FCC cited lack of interest previously, though a simple look at internet forums on the topic would show otherwise. Reportedly the commission says that the service would not be economically viable due to the current noise floor on the FM band. Many LPFM advocates including Conexus agree with the noise floor issue, especially in metro areas where these LP10 stations would most likely be established. However an upgraded version of the LP10 class was proposed by Recnet and quickly supported by The Amherst Alliance, Conexus and others in the LPFM community. The new service “LP50” (1–49 watts) would allow a compromise for those desiring a lower power version of LPFM.

On the other side of the coin, rural radio stations desire more power as their population can be spread out across the rural landscape. Rural LPFM radio stations serve a much smaller population generally, which is not as densely populated as a metro area. Conexus and Amherst also supported the new LP250 watt class which would allow current and new LPFM stations to upgrade to a maximum of 250 watts. This would allow these rural stations to better serve their population as they travel around their communities and not only when they come to town.

Both the LP50 and LP250 proposals weren’t mentioned in the November 30 meeting. Though the official R&O has not been released, you will likely not find the two proposals there either. Reportedly the commission feels the opposition to the 250 watt proposal would have caused possible additional delays of the final R&O and subsequent filing window. Conexus agrees with this decision and stands behind the FCC on this one. However, we have not dropped our support of the LP250 class and will proceed with a new petition for rulemaking in 2013. Meanwhile, The Amherst Alliance stated Monday, Dec. 3, that they intend file a petition for reconsideration this month requesting the commission to revisit the LP50 class in the “Urban Cores” of the top 100 Arbitron markets. Because this petition will address only 1% of the land area of the lower 48 states, the LPFM filing window can proceed as planned in 99% of the land area of the lower 48 United States. The loss of the LP50 class would reduce additional filing opportunities in metro areas that would have otherwise been available with the new LP50 class.

This will allow the “dust to settle” on the latest R&O and allow the filing window to open this year. The new class of LP250 at least would be available for LPFM stations as an upgrade. The LP50 class if instituted would be put back on the waiting list as LP10 in the past and would be an option available in a future filing window. This reduces additional filing opportunities in metro areas that would have otherwise been available with the new LP50 class. We feel that this is a reasonable compromise to move the opening of the filing window forward as additional delays of the filing window are detrimental to the LPFM service as a whole. With the previous filing window now approaching 13 years, it is imperative for the service that the filing window open this year.

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