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New LPFM Rule Still Leaves Questions

Amherst asks FCC to clarify when LPFMs, translators, boosters can be displaced

Despite passage of the Local Radio Community Act — which drops third-adjacent protections to full-power FMs in order to fit more low-power FMs on the band — one proponent is worried about possible displacement of LPFMs in some cases.

The Amherst Alliance is asking the FCC to establish protection from displacement for LPFMs, translators, boosters and Class D educational stations in cases where the act does not explicitly preclude such protection.

Amherst proposes in a petition for rulemaking that such targeted displacement protection should be granted only when a full-power station fails to demonstrate to the FCC that it can serve the needs of the local community better than the station threatened with displacement.

The petition was filed by co-founder and President Don Schellhardt. Amherst writes that the act mandates that new LPFMs, new translators and new boosters must “remain secondary” to existing or modified full-power FMs. Amherst interprets secondary status to mean new LPFMs, translators and boosters are subject to potential displacement by existing or modified full-power FMs, which retain their primary spectrum user status.

But the new law doesn’t say whether existing LPFMs, translators and boosters are subject to displacement; presumably that and other unanswered questions have been left to the commission’s discretion, Amherst says. It sees this as an opening for the FCC to review the parts of its primary and secondary status system not already spelled out in the act.

The FCC’s revised LPFM rules are pending.

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