FAQ: What requirements do LPFM stations have if forced to shut down as a result of "rolling" blackouts imposed by a local electric utility?

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§73.850(b) of the rules states that LPFM stations are required to operate 36 hours per week, consisting of 5 hours of operation per day on at least 6 days of the week.  Exceptions are made for stations licensed to educational institutions (schools) which does not require them to operate on weekends or on designated school holidays and vacation periods. 

In the event that a station will be silent for at least 10 consecutive days, a "silent notification" must be filed with the FCC.  If the silent period is expected to last more than 30 days, then a request for Special Temporary Authority must be obtained.  LPFM (and all other) stations are statutorily obligated under Section 312(g) of the Communications Act that states that any station that fails to broadcast signals for a 12 month period would result in an expriation of the license as a matter of law.  LPFM stations that are silent for more than 30 days are still required to also disclose the silent period on the renewal form. 

Regardless of that, many of these types of blackouts, such as those in California that are used as a preventitive measure to prevent brush fires caused by power utility facilities will not normally last more than 10 days and even if a requirement was in place for LPFM stations to report after 10 days, notification to the Commission is not required.

§73.877 requires that station logs include a (b) "brief explanation of station outages due to equipment malfunction, servicing or replacement" and (c) "operations not in accordance with the station license.". Station logs should include times (as close as possible) of when LPFM stations were taken off the air by an electric utility and when the station returns to the air.  Logs must be maintained in the station record for at least 2 years from the occurence.  

Note: This is not legal advice but instead is REC's analysis of the FCC Rules and the Communications Act.  Use this information at your own risk.

Answer revised to reflect current FCC rules.



LPFM technical operations
LPFM program content/station operations/noncommercial nature
Answer Date: 
Monday, May 1, 2023