I. Introduction (1-2)
- With this Report & Order, we authorize the licensing of two new classes of FM radio stations -- one operating at a maximum power of 100 watts and one at a maximum power of 10 watts. Both types of stations, known as low power FM stations (LPFM), will be authorized in a manner that protects existing FM service. They will be operated on a noncommercial educational basis by entities that do not hold an attributable interest in any other broadcast station or other media subject to our ownership rules. Initially, only entities located in the communities the stations serve will be eligible to participate in this service. Even once this eligibility criterion is relaxed, we will grant a significant selection preference to locally-based applicants. We believe that the LPFM service authorized in this proceeding will provide opportunities for new voices to be heard and will ensure that we fulfill our statutory obligation to authorize facilities in a manner that best serves the public interest.
- In establishing this new service, we are determined to preserve the integrity and technical excellence of existing FM radio service, and not to impede its transition to a digital future. In this regard, our own technical studies and our review of the record persuade us that 100-watt LPFM stations operating without 3rd-adjacent channel separation requirements will not result in unacceptable new interference to the service of existing FM stations. Moreover, imposing 3rd-adjacent channel separation requirements on LPFM stations would unnecessarily impede the opportunities for stations in this new service, particularly in highly populated areas where there is a great demand for alternative forms of radio service. We will not, therefore, impose 3rd-adjacent channel separation requirements. To avoid any possibility of compromising existing service, given the new nature of the LPFM service, we will impose separation requirements for low power with respect to full power stations operating on co-, 1st- and 2nd-adjacent and intermediate frequency (IF) channels. We believe that the rules we are adopting will maintain the integrity of the FM band and preserve the opportunity for a transition to a digital radio service in the future, while affording significant opportunities for new radio service.
 Existing FM stations must protect and are protected from interference from stations operating on the same, i.e., co-channel, frequency, and each of the first three adjacent FM channels. Distance separation requirements are based on a desired-to-undesired signal strength ratio methodology and are designed to permit the reception, generally, of a “desired” station throughout its protected service area. Co-channel protection is based on the “desired” signal providing a signal strength of at least 40 dB greater than an “undesired” co-channel signal and 6 dB greater than an “undesired” first-adjacent channel signal within the “desired” station’s protected service area. This methodology also ensures that a “desired” signal is not less than 40 dB less than an “undesired” 2nd- or 3rd-adjacent channel signal within the “desired” station’s protected service area.