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NAB Renews Objections to Expand LPFM Service to 250W


National Association of Broadcasters
National Association of Broadcasters

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has renewed its objections to the Petition for Rulemaking filed by REC Networks seeking the creation of a new class of 250-watt low power FM (LPFM) service. According to the trade group, the record demonstrates that, like previous attempts rejected by the Commission, the Petition does not justify such a dramatic change to LPFM service and fails to sufficiently protect incumbent FM radio services, particularly FM translator stations.

Although permitting LPFM stations to more than double their maximum allowed power will help LPFM stations reach more listeners, NAB claims that granting REC's request would effectively provide LPFM stations the same coverage as full-service Part 73 FM stations, but with a fraction of the obligations. Given that any LPFM entity is always free to apply for a Class A FM station, which would operate with the same radiated power as REC's request, NAB is asking the FCC to prohibit such a sidestep of its rules and dismiss the Petition.

Additionally, NAB claims approving LP250 service may increase interference to other FM radio services -- echoing EMF's concerns that the petition effectively ignores the "potentially harmful interference" that allowing LPFM power increases will cause to existing radio services. While REC asserts that its proposal will cause only minimum disruption to FM radio services, EMF explains that this characterization is unrealistic for at least two reasons.

First, EMF notes that the signals of LPFM stations located on the side of raised terrain already extend beyond their contour based on distance separations afforded in the FCC's rules, sometimes overlapping with and interfering with other radio services (e.g. "foothills" effect). Allowing LPFM stations to significantly increase power, NAB says, is likely to aggravate such problems. Second, the Petition discounts the "destructive interference" that would be caused to FM translator stations.

The NAB further claims that granting REC's proposal would also undermine the intended "localized nature of LPFM service envisioned by the FCC and Congress" by allowing some LPFM stations to expand their coverage area by a hundred percent or more and reach hundreds of thousands of additional listeners, including in some of the largest markets nationwide.

The trade group also noted that doing so would also contradict "the careful balance that Congress struck when enacting the LCRA between promoting opportunities for LPFM stations and protecting other FM services from interference."

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