Who knew that a little LPFM construction permit application in the heart of the City of Roses would create such consternation?
Razorcake/Gorsky Press applied in 2014 for a construction permit for a low-power station on 92.7 in Pasadena, Calif., seeking to put a little punk in Pasadena. It styles itself a community-friendly DIY punk media company with book publishing, record pressing, podcasts, and now, perhaps, radio.
Soon after, Educational Media Foundation filed a series of objections, saying that the proposed project could cause interference issues.
EMF is licensee of KYLA(FM) in Fountain Valley about 40 miles south of Pasadena. It told the Federal Communications Commission that the proposed LPFM would cause interference to its station.
The Media Bureau found no reason to expect interference issues; denied EMF’s original objection and granted the CP application to Razorcake/Gorsky Press. It also approved Razorcake/Gorsky Press’ requested waiver of second-adjacent channel minimum distance separation requirements.
EMF then took issue, filing an Application for Review. It said Razorcake/Gorsky Press had failed to demonstrate that the station will not cause interference to co-channel KYLA. EMF specifically cited rules in the Local Community Radio Act that says that an FM applicant seeking a second-adjacent waiver must demonstrate it will not cause interference to anyradio station, “not just … stations that operate on second adjacent channels,” EMF wrote.
According to EMF, the language is clear; any means any, and accordingly includes co-channel stations such as KYLA. It also submitted a lengthy argument about how the FCC should look at other groups within its own vetting procedures, such as how it evaluates translator interference rules.
The Bureau handed the Application for Review to the full commission, which now has ruled that while the term “interference” in LCRA rules could mean any interference on any channel, the section in question focused solely on proposed LPFM stations that do not satisfy the commission’s second-adjacent channel spacing requirements and could cause interference to stations on second-adjacents.
Since stations (such as KYLA) operating on co- or first-adjacent channels are already protected from interference by a second-adjacent waiver applicant’s required compliance, the commission said, there’s a more reasonable interpretation: an applicant for a second-adjacent waiver must demonstrate that it will not cause second-adjacent channel interference.
As a result, at its March meeting, the commission denied EMF’s appeal. “[I]t makes no sense to require [second-adjacent channels] to demonstrate why other parties, which the second-adjacent spacing requirement was not intended to protect, would not be harmed by the waiver,” the commission wrote.
Several other groups filed statements against EMF’s interpretation. According to REC Networks, which filed an opposition statement in 2014, Razorcake was one of four applicants that applied for 92.7 during the 2013 window. EMF filed a concern about all four, stating that interference contours of the proposed LPFM stations would overlap with the 60 dBu protected service contour of the co-channel Class A station, and it wanted a clarification whether this was covered by the LCRA.
REC wrote that the LCRA never intended to include co-channel and first-adjacent specifications in the definition of "any radio service" for the context of second-adjacent channel waivers. REC also reported on its Facebook page that Razorcake is at least 67 km from KYLA, the minimum distance required. REC said on Facebook that while Razorcake's interfering contour overlaps KYLA's 60 dBu protected contour, it does not overlap the 70 dBu city grade contour. Due to geographical mountainous features, Razorcake's signal will not go past the mountain range out of the San Gabriel Valley and therefore will not be heard in Orange County despite the contour overlap.
A similar filing by Prometheus Radio Project also said EMF was misinterpreting the Local Community Radio Act.