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FCC Issues NPRM to Amend Rules for Low Power FM Service


FCC
FCC

The FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in response to a petition by REC Networks (REC) to amend the Commission's rules for the Low Power FM (LPFM) radio service. The agency is seeking comment on technical proposals to improve LPFM reception and to increase flexibility in siting while maintaining interference protection and the core LPFM goals of diversity and localism. The Commission is also seeking comment on the costs and benefits of these proposals and any alternatives commenters may propose.

The FCC established the LPFM service in 2000 as a secondary, non-commercial radio service with a community focus. It designed LPFM engineering requirements to be simple so that non-profit organizations with limited engineering expertise and small budgets could readily apply for, construct, and operate community-oriented stations serving highly localized areas. In particular, LPFM stations operate with lower power and antenna heights; primarily use omnidirectional antennas; and protect co-channel and adjacent-channel stations from interference by complying with minimum distance separations rather than by computing and avoiding contour overlap.

In its petition, REC seeks more options in equipment used to transmit and re-transmit LPFM signals, increased power, greater flexibility in relocating LPFM facilities and additional methods for demonstrating interference protection to other stations. In a February, 2019 the Commission addressed several non-technical matters concerning LPFM stations that REC had raised (which it also raised separately in the petition). Specifically, in that proceeding, the Commission proposed to adopt and invited comment on REC proposals to lengthen the LPFM construction period and to remove restrictions on the transferability of LPFM authorizations.

The Commission tentatively reject REC's proposals to increase the power of LPFM stations, to modify LPFM/FM translator cross-ownership restrictions and to provide LPFM stations with an option to use a contour analysis rather than distance separations to evaluate potential interference to other stations. The agency says such changes would alter the simplicity of LPFM licensing, and that REC provided insufficient support for adding such complexities to the LPFM licensing process.

In addition, the Commission has previously declined to authorize LPFM stations with power exceeding 100 watts, and the FCC says REC does not present evidence that those decisions were incorrect, nor does it cite to changes since those decisions warranting a different result.

To read the entire NPRM, visit: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-19-74A1.pdf

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