FCC Institutes New Rules For LPFMs, Proposes Other Changes
March 20, 2012 at 3:39 AM (PT)
The FCC has moved to preserve slots on the dial for low power FM, issuing two reports on MONDAY adopting policies and procedures to clear more room for the stations based on the requirements of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 and asking for further comment on additional procedures and rules regarding interference and spacing requirements.
In its Fourth Report and Order and Third Order on Reconsideration, the Commission cleared out some of the 6.500 pending translator applications where spectrum is limited, adopting a cap on applications from the 2003 translator filing window of 50 per applicant and one per market for 156 spectrum-limited markets. "We have determined ... that the next LPFM window presents a critical, and indeed possibly a last, opportunity to nurture and promote a community radio service that can respond to unmet listener needs and underserved communities in many urban areas," wrote the Commission. " ... (W)e find that it is necessary to dismiss significant numbers of translator applications in spectrum limited markets to fulfill that opportunity."
The Fifth Report and Order, Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Fourth Order on Reconsideration addressed the technical aspects of LPFMs required by the Local Community Radio Act of 2010, implementing the elimination of third-adjacent channel spacing requirements with protection for subcarrier radio reading services and seeking further comment on proposals to implement waiver procedures for second-adjacent-channel minimum separation requirements, changes to third-adjacent-channel interference standards and procedures. In addition, the Commission is asking for comment on allowing LPFMs in smaller community to use up to 250 watts, elimination of I.F. channel mileage separation requirements, requiring the owners to be local not only at the time of application but at all times thereafter, adding Native American tribes and nations to the eligibility list for LPFMs, allowing cross-ownership of LPFMs and FM translators (and LPFMs and full-service stations for Native Nations applicants), allowing multiple LPFM ownerships for Native Nations, and changes to the point system used in the selection of winners among mutually exclusive applicants.