FCC votes early to adopt MB Docket 19-193

Somtimes this happens.  Prior to the August 1 open meeting, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to adopt the LPFM technical Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, MB Docket 19-193.  

The NPRM does propose some technical changes acknowleding that LPFM is evolving into a "mature" service.  Some of the changes include the ability to move more than 5.6 kilometers as a minor change as long as a contour study can show that there is no contour overlap, the ability for LPFM stations in San Diego and Tucson (and other places along the Mexican border) to use directional antennas to go to a full 100 watts except in the direction of Mexico and the abilility for LPFM stations to use FM boosters without a waiver request.  

In a big surprise to the entire industry, the FCC is proposing to eventually eliminate all protection requirements between reserved band (88~92) broadcast facilities (full power, LPFM and translator) and TV channel 6 stations effective with the sunset of analog Low Power TV operations in July, 2021.  The FCC is proposing an interim policy for LPFM stations desiring to use channels in the reserved band to be permitted to use a contour study similar to that used for translators to show a lack of contour overlap.

On the booster issue, REC had dodged a bullet as it was originally proposed that FM boosters for LPFM stations would have to be fed over the air.  A rule that was eliminated for all users of FM boosters in 1987.  If allowed to move forward, it would have rendered all boosters obsolete including those proposed for KBUU-LP in Malibu, CA where it would become a public safety issue. 

As mentioned before, the NPRM is also missing REC proposals for LPFM relief from short-spaced FM translators as well as the LP-250 proposal.  REC is urging all commenters to request these items back on the table and be considered.  Under REC's rejected proposal, LPFM stations not meeting the §73.807(c) minimum distances would be required to use a contour study to show no interference to a translator and agree to be subject to more advanced interference remediation policies currently not applicable to LPFM stations.  REC is also urging that the Commission consider a simpler LP-250 proposal, such as what was proposed in RM-11749.  Such a method was proposed in the past by the FCC and was considered as not in contravention to the Local Community Radio Act.

Once the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, the FCC will announce comment and reply comment dates in MB Docket 19-193.