REC releases study showing where the FCC may have violated the LCRA in Auctions 99 and 100
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Edited 6/8/2018: The FCC has denied all of Prometheus et al's informal objections and that letter decision had addressed some of the issues we raised. We are preserving this article and data for historical purposes but at the same time, it is still REC's position that the FCC did violate the LCRA by not addressing it in the rulemaking and instituting a policy that would have maintained the original channel floor inside the metropolitan grids.
REC Networks has released a report and analysis to address the issues brought up by other LPFM advocates in relation to the FCC's handling of applications for new cross-service FM translators in the Auction 99 (2017) and Auction 100 (2018) filing windows.
In this report, REC evaluated LPFM usage as well as translator usage prior to these two windows in the core area of the top-150 media markets. Based on the spectrum landscape prior to the Auctions 99 and 100 windows, REC had performed a complete search for LPFM opportunities within these 150 markets and developed "channel/points" similar to those used in the 2012 LPFM Third Petition for Rulemaking and Fourth Memorandum Opinion and Order.
Using the original LPFM channel floor metrics from the 2012 proceeding and evaluating current and potential LPFM usage in those markets, REC has identified 44 "spectrum limited" markets. Within those markets, between the current number of LPFM stations and a projection on the number of additional LPFM stations could be possible in the event of a future filing window, we determined the potential for LPFM stations in that market. If that potential number was less than the channel floor figure, then the market was declared "spectrum limited".
It is REC's position in spectrum limited markets, FM translator proposals must protect LPFM channel/points to assure that licenses remain available for both LPFM stations and FM translators in accordance with Section 5(1) of the Local Community Radio Act.
In this report, REC has identified 72 cross-service FM translator facilities applied for in Auctions 99 and 100 that are at a location, on a channel and with a service contour that precludes a new LPFM station at at least one specific LPFM channel/point within the "grid" of a spectrum limited market. In these cases, REC feels that the translators should be required to relocate to another channel and/or location to address the preclusion. On this same list REC has also identified another 327 facilities that are precluding LPFM channel/points within spectrum available markets. While those translators are overlapping channel/points, they are in areas where existing LPFM stations are already licensed and/or there is spectrum at this time for new stations.
Despite this report, REC continues to oppose the tactics used in connection with the Informal Objection filed by Prometheus Radio Project and other advocates in order to stop all translator modification processing in order to call attention to various issues including those addressed in this.
We note that this Report is not intended to address the interference issues that are faced by LPFM stations when a new translator comes on the air. The FCC currently has another proceeding, MB Docket 18-119 to address this issue.
Overall, it is REC's position that the FCC may have violated federal law in permitting these windows without any review of the LCRA and that as of right now, there are 72 cross-service FM translator facilities at every stage of the process (from short form to fully licensed) that are precluding future LPFM opportunities in "spectrum limited" markets in violation of Section 5(1) of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010. REC calls on the FCC to comply with the law and take appropriate actions to require these 72 translators to move and to offer a major change opportunity to the 327 precluding facilities in spectrum available markets. We need to remember, the LCRA works both ways and we must preserve community opportunities in metro areas while giving AM broadcast stations in rural and suburban areas the relief necessary to assure their station's viability into the future.
REC's full report can be found at
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About REC Networks: REC is a leading policy voice supporting a citizen’s ability to access radio spectrum. The advocacy side of REC was responsible for the writing of RM-11749, the 250-watt LPFM proposal. Other REC advocacy initiatives include alternate spectrum for community radio expansion in areas where FM spectrum is not available, driving changes to the FCC rules to allow more flexibility for LPFM stations while remaining compliant with the Local Community Radio Act. REC serves all six segments of LPFM including cause-based organizations, public sector agencies, micro radio stations, community media organizations, secular educational organizations and faith-based organizations. REC also provides consulting and filing services for LPFM stations, FM translators (including FM translators related to smaller AM broadcast stations) and full-service FM stations. More information at our website http://recnet.com.
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