The FCC offered its solution for the remaining conflicts between LPFM advocates, applicants for new FM translators from the 2003 FM translator window, and full-power FM stations with a series of orders approved by the FCC at its open meeting on Friday. We wrote about some of the issues on the table for the FCC’s resolution most recently, here. The full decision rendered on Friday as to FM translator processing was just made available moments ago, and we will analyze it shortly.  From the FCC’s Press Release on the matter and the statements of the Commissioners, we understand that there were several significant decisions made at the meeting, including:

  • Allowing applicants from the 2003 translator window to continue to prosecute up to 70 applications remaining from the window, as long as at least 20 of those applications are outside of the Top 150 markets and four other markets that had received significant applications in the 2003 window.
  • Allowing applicants from the 2003 window to continue to prosecute up to 3 translators in a single market – up from a limit of one in the Commission’s previous decision on the matter
  • Allowing LPFM applicants to receive waivers of the spacing requirements to full-power stations on second adjacent channels if they comply with the same rules as do translator applicants seeking second-adjacent channel waivers – e.g. showing that there is no interference over populated areas, and agreeing to shut off operations if there is interference to the regularly used signal of any FM full-power station
  • Eliminating the ability for LPFM stations to apply at 10 watts, and apparently rejecting proposals to allow for a class of 250 watt LPFM stations.
  • Specifically allowing LPFM stations to use FM translators in certain instances
  • Promising to open a window for the filing of LPFM applications by October 2013.
  • Changing certain preferences in the point system for awarding LPFM stations

The details set out in the just-released order will be quite important, as they should provide more information about the process for processing the remaining FM translator applications from the 2003 Window, an issue very important to many broadcasters who have been looking at some of these stations as a way to provide rebroadcasts of their AM stations and their HD-2 streams. Full-power broadcasters will also be interested in the details of the complaint process that will apply to new LPFM stations that cause interference to full-power FM stations. And those interested in LPFM will be anxious to see more details on the preference changes for awards in situations where there are mutually exclusive applications for new LPFM stations – including the obligations for shared-time operations in certain circumstances. So watch for further information in the coming days.