Further implementation of the LCRA and other LPFM improvements
The Petition for Rulemaking, now known as RM-11810 is a formal filing of many of the issues brought up by REC Networks in the Media Modernization Initiative (MB Docket 17-105) and addresses some of the issues related to the Local Community Radio Act that were originally raised by other entities but done so in a manner that respects FCC process and decorum.
The Petition proposes a second “regime” of interference protection providing more flexibility to existing LPFM stations and potentially new LPFM stations in a future filing window that allows for LPFM stations that do not meet the current §73.807 over-protections of full-service FM and FM translator stations to be able to demonstrate protection using contours in a manner similar to the rule §73.215 which applies to full-service FM stations.
Under the “§73.815” Regime (the rule section number we proposed to use), the interfering contour of the proposed LPFM facility on co-channel and first-adjacent channels, may not overlap into the protected service contour of an incumbent full-service FM or FM translator facility, authorization or proposal. Due to a statutory requirement in the LCRA, LPFM stations will still have to meet a minimum distance separation to full-service FM stations. Under RM-11810, REC proposes to use the minimum distance separations from the previous LP-10 service, which at the time when the LCRA was enacted into law, was still on the books.
RM-11810 also includes a 250-watt LPFM service that was originally proposed in RM-11749. Under the RM-11810 proposal, if a station wishes to operate more than the equivalent of a 100 watt at 30-meter height above average terrain (HAAT) LPFM station, they must use the §73.815 regime.
In return for this flexibility, LPFM stations that choose to operate under the §73.815 regime would be subject to interference rules similar to §74.1204(f) and §74.1203(a) that apply to FM translators.
It is important to remember that under the proposal, §73.815 would only apply to those either wanting to create new or increase existing §73.807 short-spacing or propose more than a standard LP-100 facility. Those LPFM stations (including new and modified facilities) wishing to have the status-quo may do so under this proposal. The §73.807 Regime would still exist with the “safety blanket” interference rules such as the current §73.809.
Because of the reduction of minimum distance separation to full-service FM stations (the most allowed under the LCRA) and the option to use strictly contours to protect FM translators, this has an opportunity to open spectrum in urbanized areas such as New York City and Los Angeles where spectrum has otherwise been blocked due to the overprotections of §73.807.
Other changes proposed in the Petition include:
- Changes to the way that LPFM stations protect TV Channel 6 stations in order to give LPFM stations better access to the “reserved band” frequencies between 88.1 and 91.9.
- Extending the distance that a minor change can be made to be consistent with translators.
- Extend the construction period on all LPFM permits (original and modification) to 36 months thus eliminating the 18-month extension process on original permits. This automatically gives an extra 18 months on modifications. Modifications are currently not eligible for extension.
- Changes to the assignment and transfer rules that will permit equally qualified organizations to “save” original construction permits and to remove the 3-year waiting period after an assignment to allow an equally qualified organization to take assignment of the license in order to save a community station.
- Changes to the assignment rules that require additional transparency in asset purchase agreements to assure that LPFM stations are being “sold” only for the depreciated fair market value of tangible goods and not the license itself.
- Expands the use of directional antennas between to also include accommodating the §73.815 Regime as well as for international agreements. The latter would allow LPFM stations that are within 125 km of Mexico to be able to operate up to 100 watts in directions other than along those bearings that are within 125 kilometers of the border.
- Codify service rules for LPFM boosters.
- Removes the over-the-air reception and primary contour overlap requirement for FM translators commonly-owned by LPFM stations as localism is controlled through the 10/20 mile rule.
- Extends the upper limit for the FM translator IF channel protection exemption from 99 to 100 watts to be consistent with LPFM.
What this petition is not or does NOT do:
- This petition acknowledges the outcome of the First and Second Reports and Order in the AM Revitalization proceeding, MB Docket 13-249 and does not change that outcome. Reconsideration was never filed after the original R&O by any LPFM advocate. REC accepted the outcome because the number of potential applicants was going to be limited to AM stations that did not participate in the 2016 window to make 250-miles on authorized translators, many of which would not be considered “new licenses” under Section 5 of the LCRA.
- This petition respects the outcome of the Auction 99 and 100 FM translator filing windows and makes no attempt to impact those applications or facilities. This petition in no way seeks to rescind, modify, cancel or dismiss any translator facility proposed in Auctions 99 or 100 nor does it seek to change any Auction 83 or pre-Auction 83 translator in any way.
- This petition was not written by anyone associated with the 998 Informal Objections against pending FM Translator applications. This Petition was written by Michelle Bradley of REC Networks who within 24 hours of the filing of the objections staunchly opposed the tactics used.
- This petition does not change the existing LPFM service. If LPFM stations wish to operate the way they are today, even if they move, they do so as long as they do not create a new §73.807 short-spacing, come closer on any existing short-spacing or propose a facility greater than an LP-100, they may continue to use the existing rules.
The FCC is accepting comments on this proceeding between now and July 19, 2018 (the day before the 34th anniversary of the founding of REC Networks). Visit the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System at https://fcc.gov/ecfs/filings and select proceeding: RM-11810.
For more information on the Petition for Rulemaking and for the actual text of the rulemaking petition, please visit http://LP250.com