RM-11909: REC addresses EMF/ABC concerns and praises the work of local LPFMs
REC Networks filed Reply Comments in the Simple250 Petition for Rulemaking, RM-11909.
In the comments, REC mirrors many of the supporting comments that were filed by LPFM stations across the country and focused on how LPFM stations are connected to their community as well as dealing with the technical challenges that stations face, especially where it comes to terrain.
REC also responded to filers that made oppositions and concerns about the LP250 proposal.
In their opposition, the National Association of Broadcasters unleashed their usual anti-LPFM tropes including how LPFM stations do not follow the rules. REC responds that any isolated issues involving rules violations are not exclusive to the LPFM service but also happen in the FM full-service and with FM translators. REC further reminded the Commission about the NAB’s deception to Congress over 20 years ago when they gave members of Congress a compact disc of what third-adjacent channel interference “sounds” like. This deception resulted in the Radio Broadcast Protection Act of 2001.
REC also reminded the NAB that it was not just full-service radio that suffered during COVID19, but also LPFM stations because of closed businesses and substantial reductions in underwriting revenue. NAB’s argument was that because of COVID-19, LPFM stations should not be able to upgrade because Americans depend on “incumbent” broadcast stations to get news and information. Of course, the NAB also forgot that there are 2,800 “incumbent” LPFM stations across the country.
REC addressed Educational Media Foundation’s concerns about “Foothill Effect” LPFM stations. “Foothill Effect” is a term coined by REC to describe a broadcast station (either LPFM or full-service) that is located in a manner where because of a mix of very high surrounding terrain with very low terrain, has a low height above average terrain calculation resulting in a higher power (100 watts or close to 100 watts for LPFM stations) and a resulting service contour that is significantly larger than the average station of the same class.
REC agreed in part to EMF’s concern stating that some LP250 stations with extremely large service contours (exceeding 20 kilometers) in certain directions should have additional controls. REC recommends a simplified process where any LPFM station with a service contour of more than 20 kilometers over at least 20 consecutive degrees of their service contour would not be eligible for upgrade. This proposal would result in 15 LPFM stations previously identified as upgrade eligible from not being eligible to upgrade. REC stated that the ability to do the check can be easily accomplished by building a website that interacts with the FCC’s Contours API. REC has built a web application that interfaces with the FCC Contours API to determine service contour size and Foothill Effect specific eligibility at:
Responding to both EMF and NAB, REC reminds the industry that there are many full-service FM stations with “Foothill Effect” characteristics where there is actual contour overlap between those facilities, even though they meet distance separation.
Finally, REC responded to a concern by ABC-Disney, licensee of Channel 6 television station WPVI, Philadelphia. ABC was concerned that LP250 would create a new level of interference by stations operating in the reserved band (88.1~91.9 MHz). In response, REC stated that the standard that was approved by the Commission in the 2020 LPFM Tech Order permits LPFM stations to use the well-established protection method that currently applies to FM Translators. Specifically for WPVI, REC noted that there are no reserved band LPFM stations within at least 200 miles from Philadelphia and opportunities in the upcoming filing window are very minimal. For WPVI, LP250, or LPFM in general should not be a worry because of the high concentration of full-service FM stations in the reserved band in the New York/Jersey/Philadelphia area, also known as the birthplace of FM radio.
From this point, it is up to the Commission to move forward on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to move the proceeding forward. It is very unlikely that the FCC will move forward on LP250 or any other major initiatives until the President nominates and the Senate confirms a fifth Commissioner. It is also important to realize that the Commission has substantially changed since the Tech Order. With O’Reilly and Pai gone, and the pro-LPFM Rosenworcel as Acting Chair, our chances for LP250 have never looked better.
For now, listeners can urge their Congress officials to support the ability for LPFM stations to grow. This may result in a letter to Acting Chair Rosenworcel to get an update on the proceeding. Regardless of your party and the party of your elected officials, LPFM is a bipartisan issue that represents all Americans. We will work with our grassroots partners to develop talking points people can use to help our stations make the improvements that they need.
A copy of REC’s comments and reply comments, along with the supporting Appendix documents can be found on our LP250 page:
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About REC Networks: REC Networks is an unincorporated entity dedicated to a citizen’s ability to access the airwaves and developing solutions to promote a diverse dial.
Michelle Bradley, CBT