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NAB Says New New Class of LPFM Would Congest FM Band


National Association of Broadcasters
National Association of Broadcasters

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) filed Tuesday with the FCC regarding a Petition for Rulemaking to create a new class of 250-watt low-power FM radio stations. The trade group is opposed to the move and writes the petition is at least the fifth or sixth bid, and the third by REC Networks, to allow LPFM stations to more than double their maximum allowed power.

NAB notes that the Commission has repeatedly rejected all such proposals on both technical and policy grounds, and the Petition at hand fails to present any new information or circumstances, "especially that justifies such a radical change." Although REC claims to have addressed the FCC's objections to earlier requests, NAB says the petition does not, writing, "Even under REC's latest approach, authorizing LP250 service will: (1) risk significant over-crowding of the already congested FM band; (2) impede other radio services at a critical time when local FM broadcasters are still recovering from the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; and (3) violate the intent of both Congress and the Commission for LPFM service by altering the fundamental hyper-local, simple nature of the service."

Moreover, the trade group claims that it's simply unnecessary as the FCC has already improved LPFM service coverage by permitting the use of translators, boosters and other measures. "Essentially, LPFM advocates are asking that LPFM stations be permitted to enjoy the same (or even greater) coverage as full-service Part 73 FM stations, but without the same public interest and regulatory obligations," wrote the NAB.

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