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LPFMs Speak Up for More Power

Comments on REC Networks proposal remain open

Should eligible 100-watt LPFM stations be allowed to upgrade to 250 watts?

Some 345 comments had been filed as of Thursday afternoon on this and several related proposals. Most so far are favorable, though comments remain open at this writing, and it’s likely that industry organizations like NAB will file near the deadline.

As we reported in April, the push comes from low-power FM proponent REC Networks, which wants several changes to the rules. These include higher power; protection parity with FM translators; extending the distance for minor moves; a change in the definition of local origination for time-share stations (from eight hours of programming per day to one-third of daily programming); and removing the contour overlap requirement in the FM translator rule. REC says its proposal focuses on enhancing the listener experience in the three-mile LPFM contour and enhancing coverage within suburban and less spectrum-crowded urban areas.

Sample supportive comments:

“There remain several deficiencies with the WSWO(LP) signal that would be addressed by upgrading to the facilities in the proposed LP-250 class,” wrote that station in Huber Heights, Ohio.

“At the 100 watt ERP level, there is significant difficulty in achieving penetration into many newer buildings some of which are actually within the current 60 dB contour,” wrote WDFC(LP) in Greensboro, N.C.

“It is our belief that the modifications proposed under RM-11749 not only would prove beneficial to operators of LPFM stations nationwide, but vital to their long-term survivability,” said the CP holder for WKRP(LP) in Raleigh, N.C.

And WFAQ(LP) in Mukwonago, Wis., wrote, “Almost every conversation with potential listeners involves a tutorial about needing an antenna, and usually ends with ‘and don’t forget you can listen to us online streaming as well.’ Running an LPFM is tough enough.”

Many comments are two- to four-sentence texts like this one: “Please allow the Martin County Radio station sponsored by the Travel and Tourism to have increased power. It is the only radio station that gives Severe Weather Alerts specifically to Martin County residents. It gives public notification of upcoming events within the area. It informs of news, weather and events.”

But AM station owner Scott Bailey at WMRO(AM) in Gallatin, Tenn., told the commission he thinks REC Networks “is asking for more and more for LPFMs, and before we know it, they will be asking that LPFMs be allowed to be full commercial stations. … The LPFM applicants got what they wanted, so they should be grateful for what they have and stop trying to put small 250- to 1,000-watt, commercial AM stations out of business.”

We’ll report on additional filed comments (and you can also post thoughts below). Comments to the FCC should be filed in RM-11749.