FM Translators and LPFM

Low Power FM is back in the news this week.  As we noted a week ago in our summary of FCC regulatory actions, a Petition for Rulemaking has been filed by REC Networks asking that the maximum authorized power for LPFM stations be raised from 100 to 250 watts.  The hope among LPFM advocates is that an increase in power will allow such stations to increase service in their communities.  REC asks that this proposal be adopted based entirely on mileage separation rules (i.e., how far these stations would have to be spaced from other stations operating on the same or an adjacent channel), even while recognizing that, in some cases, the mileage separations could create interference to existing FM stations or FM translators.  This is just an initial proposal asking the FCC to start a rulemaking to further consider this power increase.  Comments on this proposal are due June 21, 2021.

In addition, in an article published last week, Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel set out the items to be considered on the agenda for the FCC’s June monthly open meeting.  One of the items to be considered is a review of two petitions for reconsideration of the FCC’s 2020 Order which changed some of the technical rules for LPFM stations (see our article here).  In announcing this draft reconsideration action, the Chairwoman stated that the resolution of these technical issues would bring the FCC one step closer to opening a window for the filing of applications for new LPFM stations. The last such window was in 2013.  While no dates have been provided, in previous announcements, the FCC has indicated that this window would follow the noncommercial FM window that is scheduled for November of this year.
Continue Reading Low Power FM Back In Front of FCC – Another Proposal to Raise Power and Word of a New Filing Window

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • New rules went into effect on May 24 that are designed to give broadcast TV stations greater flexibility in the

As the calendar flips to June, pandemic restrictions across the country continue to loosen, and we inch closer to summer.  Broadcasters could be forgiven for not having regulatory dates and deadlines on the top of their minds.  There are, however, many important dates and deadlines to keep track of during June – we provide details of some of them below.  As always, be sure to stay in touch with your FCC counsel for the dates and deadlines applicable to your operations.

Radio stations in ArizonaIdahoNevadaNew MexicoUtah, and Wyoming and television stations in Michigan and Ohio should be putting the final touches on their license renewal applications, which are due by June 1.  See our article, here, about preparing for license renewal.  These stations must also file with the FCC a Broadcast EEO Program Report (Form 2100, Schedule 396) and, if they are part of a station employment unit (a station or a group of commonly owned stations in the same market that share at least one employee) with 5 or more full-time employees, upload to their public file and post on their station website a link to their Annual EEO Public Inspection File report covering their hiring and employment outreach activities for the twelve months from June 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021.
Continue Reading June Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: License Renewal and EEO Filings, Comments and Replies, Auction Upfront Payments, Streaming Rates Announcement, and More

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC asked for public comment on a proposal to increase from 100 to 250 watts the maximum power allowed

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • We noted last week that updated fees for broadcast applications would take effect April 19. After clarification from the FCC,

After a long winter, spring has finally arrived and has brought with it more daylight and warmer temperatures—two occurrences that do not necessarily pair well with keeping up with broadcast regulatory dates and deadlines.  Here are some of the important dates coming in April.  Be sure to consult with your FCC counsel on all other important dates applicable to your own operations.

On or before April 1, radio stations in Texas (including LPFM stations) and television stations in Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee must file their license renewal applications through the FCC’s Licensing and Management System (LMS).  Those stations must also file with the FCC a Broadcast EEO Program Report (Form 2100, Schedule 396).

Both radio and TV stations in the states listed above with April 1 renewal filing deadlines, as well as radio and TV stations in Delaware and Pennsylvania, if they are part of a station employment unit with 5 or more full-time employees (an employment unit is a station or a group of commonly controlled stations in the same market that share at least one employee), by April 1 must upload to their public file and post a link on their station website to their Annual EEO Public Inspection Report covering their hiring and employment outreach activities for the twelve months from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.
Continue Reading April Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: License Renewal, Issues/Programs Lists, EEO, Webcasting Royalties and More

Here are some of the regulatory developments of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau reminded stations of their obligation to comply with all sponsorship identification rules and to disclose information

In two Notices of Violation issued on one day this week, an FCC Field Office cited Low Power FM operators for using transmission systems that, in addition to transmitting signals on their authorized channels, were also emitting signals on other channels that posed the potential for interference with other users on those other frequencies – sometimes not even broadcast frequencies.  In one case, the FCC noted that it was the FAA that reported the interference (the other notice released the same day is available here).

All broadcast transmissions have the potential for these spurious emissions on channels other than the ones for which a station is authorized, especially if a station is near other stations as frequencies can interact to produce these unintended emissions.  When constructing and operating any broadcast station, care should be given to ensure that these off-channel emissions are not of a signal strength beyond that permitted by the FCC rules as interference can occur and the FCC can potentially impose fines.
Continue Reading FCC Notes Violations for Two LPFM Operators for Spurious Emissions – Make Sure that Your Station is Transmitting Only Within Its Assigned Frequency

March brings springtime and, with it, a likely reprieve from the cold and extreme weather much of the country has been suffering through.  As noted below, though, March brings no reprieve from the routine regulatory dates and deadlines that fill a broadcaster’s calendar.

TV operators have until March 8 to file comments in the Copyright Office’s Notice of Inquiry looking to assess the impact of the abolition of the statutory copyright license that allowed satellite television operators to import distant network signals into TV markets where there were households arguably not being served by a local network affiliate (see our article here).
Continue Reading March Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: Copyright, White Spaces, and Zonecasting Comments; LPTV and Translator Analog-to-Digital Extension; Emergency Alerting for Streaming Companies, and More.

At the end of last week, the FCC’s Audio Division released a letter decision denying a Class A FM station licensee (limited in power to 6 KW) a waiver that would have allowed it to upgrade its facilities to those that would be equivalent to what would be permitted if the Commission was to establish a Class C4 FM.  The Division found that granting such a waiver would prejudge the FCC’s pending proceeding looking at whether the FCC should approve Class C4 stations.  Where does that proceeding stand?

The pending proposal to create a Class C4 FM station, i.e., one operating with maximum effective radiated power of 12 kw (essentially midway between the power limits of the current Class A stations and Class C3 FMs that are limited to 25 kw), has been advocated at the FCC for several years.  Sponsors contend that it would allow Class A stations to not only solidify and expand their coverage, but also to overcome some of the building penetration issues that are alleged to occur when reception is limited inside buildings constructed of certain materials.  The proposal for this new class of FM station has not been unanimously supported by other broadcasters.
Continue Reading No Class C4 FM To Be Permitted By Waiver – Where Things Stand on Proposal for New Class of FM Stations