19-193: Comment Summary
The following is a summary of timely-filed comments in MB Docket 19-193 as interpreted by REC, and can be used as a basis for filing Reply Comments which are due on November 4. Additional annotations by REC provided where appropriate. Annotations reflecting REC positions shown in italics.
White is the director of Triangle Access Broadcasting, licensee of WRLY-LP, Raleigh NC. On behalf of Triangle Access Broadcasting, White has been rightfully "calling out" FM translator broadcast stations over issues such as duplicating coverage and carrying commercial broadcast stations on noncommercial FM translators.
Directional Antennas (DA): LPFM and translator DA rules should be consistent but care must be made to assure correct rotation is used.
Translator Relief (FXR): LPFM becoming boxed in by translators is a serious issue and LPFMs should be permitted to protect translators in the same manner that translators protect LPFM stations.
Supports removing of "type certified" requirement for translators in favor of "type accepted" consistent with other broadcast services. (REC opposes removing the type certification because of the large amount of imported uncertified transmitters on the market and available through mass retailers such as Amazon.com. Until the FCC and DOJ steps up to curb these illegal sales, we must maintain this position.)
250-watt LPFM Stations (LP-250): FCC should revisit LP-250 as an alternative to using a different frequency for LPFM over a translator and to address building penetration issues.
Channel 6 relief (TV6): Supports FCC proposal.
Emergency Alert System (EAS): It is inappropriate at this time to modify EAS rules for LPFM stations.
Silent LPFM: §73.850 needs to be modified to include a silent station provision.
Includes Paul Bame of Prometheus Radio Project, Clay Leander, Todd Urick, Al Davis and Caitlin Reading.
DA: Supports NPRM. Requirement of proofs is overkill.
TV6: Favors eliminating distance separations from LPFM to TV6 and should be expanded to Class D. Supports "franken FM"/audio services on 87.7 (FM6) and "second adjacent channel" rules from LPFM and translators is not needed.
Distance of minor moves (Minors): Extend the distance where a contour study is not required from 5.6 to 13 km. A non-adjacent channel change should be permitted if there is interference and the new channel may cause "more" interference. (This would be consistent with the recent change in the FM translator rules.)
LPFM Booster cross-ownership (Boosters): Codified rules are not necessary. LPFMs should be able to have more than 2 boosters if a need can be made. Boosters should be permitted to be designated as auxiliary facilities.
EAS: LPFM stations are burdened with EAS costs including decoder purchase and software/firmware updates. A reliable nationwide alert system should be able to function without the internet. Opposes removing EAS requirements for LPFM but the issue needs additional work. Allow time-shared LPFM stations to share a single EAS decoder.
Remove requirements requiring LPFM stations protecting FM translators on second and third-adjacent channels.
Remove provision in §73.870(c) that for original CP applications where an error is made causing short-spacing that the application is dismissed without opportunity to amend nunc pro tunc.
LP-250: Finds it unfortunate that LP-250 was omitted. Citing translator interference, interference from over bodies of water, tropospheric ducting, building penetration, "rimshot" incoming interference, HD interference and geography, allowing LP-250 (especially for stations with less than 10w ERP) would permit these stations to operate as intended instead of surrendering their licenses.
Supports type verified transmitters in lieu of type certified.
Sibert is the president of Park Public Radio, licensee of KPPS-LP.
DA: NPRM does not go too far (citing Mexico strip zone) and DAs can make LPFM more flexible, especially in the presence of "box-in" by FM translators. LPFM stations should not have to face any requirements requiring surveyors/engineers as those rules do not apply to FM translators.
TV6: Supports removal of TV6 protection requirements. FM6 should not continue after analog sunset.
Minors: Moves up to 11.2 km should not require a contour study.
Boosters: Boosters should not count towards their two translator allotment. Location restrictions are not necessary since the booster must maintain service within the 60 dBu of the LPFM. Existing booster rules should be used.
Radio Reading Services (RRS): FCC should publish a list of stations if they plan to enforce this rule.
EAS: Burdensome for LPFM. LPFMs are unaware of LPFM, FCC has done a poor job communicating. Should send regular reminders to stations. Larger issue is software updates and the frequent changes to the CAP. FEMA should provide grants to stations to assist in the purchase of EAS. LPFMs should be permitted to use a non-certified decoder. Supports Open Broadcaster software (open source EAS).
LP-250: The FCC's unwillingness to consider granting LP-250, despite substantial support is tragic. Allow LP250 as proposed by REC.
The inability to air commercials makes it difficult for LPFM stations, especially in light of the charges involved with EAS.
Perhaps reconsider rules that prohibit an LPFM from being sold for profit.
Why should LPFM have more stringent rules than FM translator and Class D stations?
No national lobbying organization for LPFM.
FX: LPFM should be able to use contour protection towards short-spaced FM translator stations. Otherwise, translator applications that do not meet LPFM distance separation should be denied.
TV6: Protection rules are obsolete and unnecessary. DTV receivers are highly resistant to interference. Operation of FM6 should not delay the analog sunset. FM6 is a gross waste of spectrum. (Point to ponder here: the FM6 industry claims that the technology that they are developing will permit the 5.7 MHz of bandwidth designated to the DTV signal to be fully functional (i.e. the sound will correspond with what is bring broadcast on video) on DTV receivers while the analog signal is injected around 87.8 MHz without the analog signal affecting the reception of the DTV programming on Channel 6. Regardless of that, REC still supports the discontinuance of FM6 services at analog sunset.)
NPR took no positions on LPFM.
Licensee of WBCA-LP, Boston, MA.
Boosters: Supports. Feels they should be alternate fed, not over the air. (This proposal appeared in a circulation draft of the NPRM. REC got this fixed prior to the adoption of the NPRM that the Commission considered. This concern is now moot.)
DA: Supports use of composite DAs.
TV6: Protections no longer necessary. Supports FM6 after analog sunset.
Commission should address the overall issue of Foothill Effect (REC term for LPFM stations located between high and low terrain thus causing a low HAAT but a large service contour in a particular direction). Cites the Razorcake-Gorsky Press case.
Minors: Can increase interference potential. Could permit LPFM stations to "aggravate existing situations of interference" such as those described in foothill areas without a petition to deny period applicable to major changes. Minors should require showing that it will not increase interference to existing stations.
DA: Like with minors, use of DAs should require a showing of no increased interference.
LP-250: Opposes. Claims congressional record for LCRA prohibits any service of more than 100 watts. (FCC debunked this in the 6th Report & Order stating that Congressional Record is not the law and there's nothing in the law that defines the power levels of LPFM stations.) Complicates licensing and contradicts the LCRA prohibition against reducing distance separations between LPFM and full-service FM stations. (Moot point since we withdrew the "§73.815 regime" which used the LP-10 distances) Claims LP-250 would no longer make a station "hyperlocal".
DA: Claims that LPFM stations are not financially capable of using directional antennas, especially if a proof of performance and a survey is required. Digs into LPFM's compliance record (while ignoring full-service and translator's compliance record, including killing listeners.) DAs will just cause more LPFMs to be crammed in urban areas. (Currently, the only LPFM stations that can run "off the shelf" DAs are those needing to use a DA to demonstrate second-adjacent channel or by public safety agencies. DAs can't be used to "short-space" stations under the current rules. The NPRM proposes to allow LPFM stations, mainly along the Mexican border to use DAs to allow for a full 100 watts while complying with the Mexican agreement and to allow for LPFM stations, within those three categories to use "composite" antennas instead of off the shelf. REC further proposed that LP-250 and short-spacing to translators/LPFMs should be allowed to use reasonable DAs that meet the coverage standard of full-service DAs thus meaning up to a 15 dB maximum to minimum ratio in order to assure fuller coverage and reduce interference. We also proposed a "backstop" by imposing the same interference remediation rules that apply to FM translators to LP-250 and translator/LPFM short-space applications.)
Boosters: Objects to boosters absent a waiver. Concerned about the costs and complexities of synchronized boosters. (Some valid concerns, we just don't want a future Commission to outright not allow LPFM stations that need boosters from being able to get them. All of REC's sponsored boosters in Southern California have been hard terrain situations. We still don't see a lot of takers on boosters and we urge LPFM stations to not ask for one because "you can get one" without totally understanding the implications.)
Station Manager, KUZU-LP, Denton, TX
LPFM has been treated like a "second class citizen" including small operating power, limited use of DAs, transmitter certification, buffer zones. LPFM is now mature and should be afforded the same rights and responsibilities as any other FM service.
Operates several NCE-FMs in the Philadelphia area and is impacted by WPVI-TV, Philadelphia on Channel 6.
TV6: Supports lifting restrictions. Rules are out of date and no longer relevant. FM facilities should be given a waiver of protection rules in the interim if the Channel 6 TV station has already transitioned to digital.
Licensee of KKJZ-FM, 88.1, Long Beach, CA. Currently has filed an objection against a modification for a FM6 facility on Mount Wilson in Southern California.
TV6: Does not support eliminating protection rules at analog sunset. FCC should look at putting rules on TV6 stations to protect NCE-FMs.
Board member, WXOJ-LP, Northampton, MA.
Licensee of WZML-LP, Bryn Mawr, PA
Supports the NPRM in general.
LP-250: FCC should reconsider its tentative rejection of LP-250 and bring it to full record under a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The FCC errored when rejecting LP-250 in the Sixth Report & Order and that since then, there have been many changes. The Sixth R&O was further distracted by the push by Amherst to preserve LP-10 at the expense of blocking LP-250 in urban and suburban areas. Supports a contour backstop to address "foothill effect" and to assure that LP-250 stations can't overlap into protected contours like FM translators can't. LP-250 addresses building penetration. Legislative history has no bearing on future LPFM service classes. While REC had evaluated a third-adjacent channel protection requirement for LP-250 on suggestion by NAB, it determined that LCRA language prohibits invoking any kind of third-adjacent channel protection requirement except for radio reading services in the LPFM service. A third-adjacent channel interference remediation policy already exists in LPFM and would be valid for both LP-100 and LP-250 stations. Further, REC proposes that any LP-250 station would be subject to an interference remediation policy similar to the one recently enacted for FM translators. REC abandons the "§73.815 Regime" calling for the use of LP-10 distances and goes back on the original RM-11749 proposal which uses LP-100 distances but with a contour backstop. Supports LP-250 as an upgrade to existing only as that would assure that stations have experience, has a "fall back" to LP-100 in the event going 250 causes interference and also would not fall under LCRA Section 5.
REC criticizes the NAB portrayal of LPFM as not being a compliant service without discussing the compliance issues with full-service and FM translator stations.
LPFM and full-service should be working together to promote radio as a medium in a day when market share is being taken by streaming services.
Translator Relief: Supports rules to allow LPFM stations that are short-spaced to FM translators or other LPFM stations to use contours to demonstrate no contour overlap. LPFM stations short-spaced would have the translator style interference remediation policy towards the short-spaced station. Recognizes that LPFM over-protects FM translators while translators can come up very close to LPFM stations due to the disparity in the protection rules (distance separation vs. contours). States that the LCRA allows for reduction of distances between LPFM and FM translators where the RBPA didn't. The LCRA never addressed LPFM to LPFM relationships.
TV6: Supports removal of protection requirements at analog sunset and interim LPFM rules. Supports the elimination of FM6 at analog sunset and warns that if FM6 operation is considered an "ancillary service", then the distribution of radio receivers must be controlled by subscription only (similar to SCA subcarrier), otherwise reception of these stations would be in violation of the US Criminal Code (Title 18 USC). Demonstrates that in the markets where FM6 stations are operating, LPFM stations are not available on 88.1 due to full-service FM stations.
Boosters: Supports boosters, mainly for hard terrain situations in places like California, especially in areas that are prone to disasters.
Minors: Support NPRM.
DAs: Supports NPRM. Explains that the DA portion is only being extended mainly to LPFM stations near Mexico. Supports limited use of DAs for LP-250 and short-spaced translator/LPFMs and would consider a requirement of a 15 dB maximum to minimum ratio.
EAS: Does not support outright elimination of EAS requirements but requests a suspension in enforcement until the FCC, FEMA, EAS manufacturers and LPFM can have a discussion on the costs around EAS for both equipment purchase and software updates when FEMA makes changes to the CAP. Notes that the FCC should better communicate with LPFMs and have all broadcast specific notifications also come out of the Media Bureau instead of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. Supports open-source EAS and calls for reforms to the FEMA memorandum of understanding policy and to make available a true "open" IPAWS which allows decoders and other devices to get emergency information on a "read only" basis. The current FIPS (county) level of alerting is incompatible with the hyperlocal nature of LPFM stations, especially in larger counties.
Calls for LPFM specific policy to require silent stations to report their status.
Raises one issue from the LPFM-AG (RM-11753) petition to allow LPFM stations to get call signs without the "LP" suffix.
Changes proposed in the NPRM will "likely only serve to increase interference with full power stations" which will cause listeners to turn off the radio in favor of streaming, etc. The NPRM will only compound the FM translator issues. Secondary services (LPFM and translators) will (1) substantially create an impairment on those licenses in permits in derogation of Section 316 of the Communications Act, (2) cause confusion in the marketplace among listeners affected by interference from LPFM stations and (3) possibly interfere with life-saving AMBER alerts and EAS messaging. The balance should fall on full-service licensees whose station licenses and CPs were granted under a licensing regime which they were promised full protection from secondary service interference. The FCC should be focusing on allowing 3 kW class A stations to increase to 6 kW.
DAs: Permitting LPFMs to use DAs could interfere with the signal patterns of full-service stations and that composite antennas are "too complex" for LPFM. The FCC should not grant carte blanche to use DAs. (No one is proposing this.)
TV6: LPFM stations should only be allowed to waive TV6 if they can show no interference to other radio stations. Otherwise, NJBA supports elimination of TV6 protections.
Minors: NJBA does not oppose but any relocation that could impact full-service stations within a 45 dBu contour should be excluded.
Boosters: Consideration should be made to the effect on Class A FM stations. Boosters should only be allowed of NJ Class A stations can increase from 3 to 6 kW.
Some backstory in all fairness is warranted here. NJBA has been one of the loudest critics of LPFM in the past 20 years. New Jersey is unique in some ways by having the highest population density in the country and being wedged between the New York City and Philadelphia markets, the state is very unrepresented. Because of the density and how close New Jersey stations are located, there are still many Class A stations in the state that could never upgrade to 6 kW when the FCC increased the class maximum to 6 kW a few decades ago. The NJBA was influential in getting Section 7(6) of the LCRA which calls for translator style interference remediation (old translator rules) for any new LPFM stations licensed in the state. Many of the alleged LPFM interference issues NJBA worries about can be resolved with Section 7(6). So far, this alleged interference has never happened and REC is not aware of any New Jersey LPFMs being shut down for such interference. There are currently 21 LPFM stations licensed in New Jersey including 14 in which Section 7(6) would apply.
Four Rivers Community Broadcasting, Bux-Mont Educational Radio & Penn-Jersey Educational Radio Corporation
More NCE broadcasters affected by WPVI-TV, Channel 6 in Philadelphia.
TV6: TV6 stations are adequately protected under the blanketing protection rules. Elimination of TV6 protections should immediately take effect when the TV6 station has already transitioned to digital.
Operations Manager of KGCE-LP, Modesto, California
Support NPRM in general.
Represeting Bridge of Hope, licensees of WKNZ, Harrington, DE. Also affected by WPVI-TV.
TV6: Elimination of TV6 protections will allow them to add horizontal polarization. They have been getting complaints that listeners with horizontally polarized antennas can't hear the station.