About the LPFM Advocates Alternative Proposal for FCC "Option 3" in MM Docket 99-25

In the Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in FCC MM Docket 99-25, the FCC presented three different options for the handling of the remaining pending "Great Translator Invasion" applications.

Option 1: Dismiss all translator applications and then have a single window consisting of LPFM and Translator applications.

Option 2: Allow LPFM applications to file "on top" of existing translator applications and the LPFM applications would have priority.

Option 3: Evaluate the core area of the 150 top Arbitron markets and determine the number of possible channels for LPFM and add in the number of existing LPFM stations in the market, then set a "channel floor". In markets where the there are more LPFM opportunities than the channel floor (including existing stations), translator applications would be processed. Otherwise, all translators would be dismissed. In addition, markets smaller than 150 that had at least 4 pending translator applications were analyzed.

The FCC wishes to implement Option 3.

REC's position is that Option 1 would cause disparity between the services especially since translators can be commercial and a commercial application that is mutually exclusive with a non-commercial application will always trump the non-commercial application. REC opposes Option 2 because it will prevent future opportunities as well as eliminate the ability for LPFM or translators to make changes in the event of displacement.

In Option 3, the FCC is proposing that a square study area 30 minutes (half of a degree) latitude by 30 minutes longitude centered on the urban area. A search is then done at study points 1 minute by 1 minute apart and if a channel is available at any study point in the study area, the channel is counted. Then the number of existing licensed LPFM stations is added in. If the total number of channels is less than but not equal to the designated channel floor, all pending translator applications in the market would be dismissed.

The FCC's designated channel floor values are tiered based on the market ranking:
Markets 1 to 20 - 8 channels
Markets 21 to 50 - 7 channels
Markets 51 to 100 - 6 channels
Markets 101 and smaller - 5 channels

A group of LPFM advocates including Prometheus Radio Project, Common Frequency and REC Networks are supporting a modified version of the FCC's proposal.

In an extensive analysis done by REC and the other advocates, we have determined some flaws with the FCC's determination of channels available. We have also discovered channels that are only available at study points where there would be no population within the coverage area of an LPFM station if one was placed there.

We had also determined that the "one size fits all" at the 30 x 30 degree size is too large for many metro areas. This is resulting in channels in rural areas being counted in the market therefore foreclosing on opportunities for the urban and suburban areas.

To address the 30 x 30 study area issue, the LPFM Advocates are proposing decreasing the study area from 30 x 30 to 20 x 20 in all markets. We have found that in many markets, the 20 x 20 study area would best describe the size of the urbanized area and reduce the number of rural channels being counted against the city.

To address the issue with channels only being available in zero population areas and other flaws in the FCC's study, we are also asking for a 25% increase in the size of the channel floors to:
Markets 1 to 20 - 10 channels
Markets 21 to 50 - 9 channels
Markets 51 to 100 - 8 channels
Markets 101 and smaller - 6 channels

Under the FCC's plan, 80 of the 150+ markets would have have translator applications processed. Under the LPFM Advocates plan, 49 markets would have the translator applications processed.

View a list of markets where we propose to dismiss translator applications

We feel the LPFM Advocates' proposal would give a better representation of the number of channels that would be realistically available in the urban and suburban areas.

Use the "LPFM Advocates" option on the LPFM Search Tool to view LPFM availability based on our proposed criteria.