In April, the FCC modified a number of its rules regarding LPFM stations, and also modified its processing policies as to considerations of interference between Channel 6 TV stations and noncommercial FM stations operating on the reserved band (the low end of the FM dial). We wrote about those changes here and here.
The FCC last week released its tentative agenda for its April 23 open meeting. For broadcasters, that meeting will include consideration of the adoption of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (draft NPRM here) looking to broaden obligations for the audio description of television programming (referred to as the Video Description proceeding) – which we will write about in more detail later. The agenda also includes a Report and Order modifying rules relating to Low Power FM stations, which also addresses the protection of TV channel 6 stations by FM stations (full-power or LPFM) operating in the portion of the FM band reserved for use by noncommercial stations. The FCC’s draft order in this proceeding is here. We initially wrote here about these FCC’s proposals when the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the proceeding was adopted last year. Today, we will look at how the FCC has tentatively decided to resolve some of the issues.
One of the most controversial issues was the proposal to allow LPFM stations to operate with a directional antenna. While some directional operations had been approved by waiver in the past, there was some fear that allowing these antennas more broadly could create the potential for more interference to full-power stations. As a directional antenna requires greater care in installation and maintenance to ensure that it works as designed, some feared that LPFM operators, usually community groups often without a broadcast background or substantial resources, would not be able to properly operate such facilities. The FCC has tentatively decided to allow use of directional antenna by LPFM stations. However, it will require LPFM stations installing such antennas to conduct proof of performance measurements to assure that the antenna is operating as designed. The cost of such antennas, the limited situations in which such antennas will be needed (principally when protecting translators and in border areas), and the additional cost of the proof of performance should, in the FCC’s opinion, help to limit their use to entities that can afford to maintain them properly. …
Continue Reading FCC April Meeting to Consider LPFM and Video Captioning – Looking at the LPFM Proposed Order (Including Interference Protections for TV Channel 6)
Last week, the FCC started a new proceeding through the adoption of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to review several restrictions that currently apply to Low Power FM stations. While doing so, it will also review the current rules, dating from the analog television days, restricting certain FM operations in the non-commercial reserved band of the FM dial where those operations are near Channel 6 TV stations. Comments will be due on this proposal 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register, with Replies due 15 days later.
The LPFM proposals look at a number of issues. The Commission asks if LPFM stations should be allowed to operate with directional antennas, which are currently routinely barred given that these antennas may be more difficult to operate and maintain. When the rules were originally adopted, there was a fear that LPFM licensees, who may not have a technical background or substantial resources for engineering support, could not maintain those antennas so as to protect other FM stations operating on the same and adjacent channels. Similar concerns currently limit LPFM stations from using on-channel boosters to fill in holes in their service area. The FCC asks if these prohibitions can be lifted as the LPFM industry has become more mature, allowing LPFMs to use both directional antennas and on-channel boosters without risking increased interference to other stations.
Continue Reading FCC Starts Rulemaking to Look at LPFM Issues and the Protection of Channel 6 TVs by Noncommercial Radio Stations and Whether “Franken FMs” Can Continue