LPFM second adjacent channel interference

Last week, the FCC formally announced its receipt of a proposal from REC Networks to raise the maximum power for LPFM stations from 100 watts to 250 watts, to give them equivalent power levels with FM translator stations. REC suggests that these higher power levels are necessary to allow LPFM stations to overcome the effects of multipath in their coverage areas, and to provide sufficient building penetration in more urban areas. The proposal (which is available here) also suggests other changes to the rules that apply to LPFM stations, including those dealing with interference protections between LPFM stations and FM translators, and the rules allowing the use of the FM translators by LPFM stations. The FCC notice is only an announcement that the proposal has been received. While comments can be filed within 30 days as to whether or not the FCC should move further to consider the issues raised in the Petition, any ultimate action should require that the FCC issue a formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit comments on the specific proposals that the Commission deems potentially worthy of consideration.

Nevertheless, even though this is but a request for preliminary comments, broadcasters may want to consider commenting within the 30 days provided by the Commission as to whether or not this proposal should move forward. The proposals put forward in REC’s Petition are very detailed, and it provided significant backing information in support of its requests. The 250 watt proposal has many nuances – proposing that these upgrades be allowed, at least initially, only for already authorized LPFM stations as minor changes to their existing facilities. And the proposal would not expand the “buffer zones” adopted by the Commission when it first authorized LPFM stations – establishing mileage separation requirements between LPFM and full-power FM stations designed to protect the full-power station beyond its normally protected contour. REC suggests that, in most cases, the buffer zone provides too much protection to full-power stations, and that even at 250 watts, there should still be sufficient protection to full-power stations.
Continue Reading Preliminary Comments Sought by FCC on Proposal to Increase LPFM Power to 250 Watts and to Modify LPFM Translator Rules

Right before Christmas, the FCC’s Media Bureau released a Public Notice announcing that they have reviewed the final set of mutually exclusive LPFM applications.  “Mutually exclusive applications” are applications for stations in the same geographic area which cannot all be granted without creating interference issues. The notice identifies tentative winners selected by the “point system” that the FCC uses to decide between mutually exclusive applicants (or applicants headed for shared time arrangements where they remained tied after the FCC’s “point system” analysis).  The Public Notice lists 96 mutually exclusive groups of LPFM applicants in the Southeast and South Central states.  We wrote in July about a group of Western applications that had already been considered by the FCC, and in September about another group of LPFM applications in the Northeast and North Central states.  So this current notice should be the final major list of LPFM applications that need to be processed by the FCC.  The issuance of this notice gives broadcasters and other interested parties 30 days to file any objections to these proposed new stations.  In addition, applicants can raise issues against each other.  Objections are due on January 22

The notice also sets a 90 day window for LPFM applicants whose applications are listed in this notice to file applications to make changes in their applications – including major changes to new frequencies or different transmitter sites.  Applicants who were not the tentative winners in the FCC’s consideration of the mutually exclusive groups have another shot to get FCC permission to construct a new LPFM station, if they can find an open frequency in the next 90 days.  Those amendments are due by March 23, but are often filed earlier as they are treated by the FCC on a first come, first served basis.  Broadcasters need to watch these amendments, as they could pose interference issues for full-power FM stations on channels not previously proposed for use by any LPFM applicant. 
Continue Reading FCC Issues Public Notice on Mutually Exclusive LPFM Applications in the Southeast US – Deadlines for Petitions to Deny and Amendments to Applications

Another set of mutually exclusive LPFM applications have been reviewed and tentative point system winners (or applicants headed for shared time arrangements where they remained tied after the FCC’s “point system” analysis) have been determined by the FCC.  These determinations involve 111 mutually exclusive groups of LPFM applicants, mostly east of the Mississippi.  We wrote two months ago about a group of Western applications that had already been considered by the FCC.  The issuance of this notice gives broadcasters 30 days to file any objections to these proposed new stations.  In addition, applicants can raise issues against each other.  All objections are due on October 6

The notice also sets a 90 day window for LPFM applicants whose applications were under consideration in this notice to file applications to make changes in their applications – including major changes to new frequencies or different transmitter sites.  So applicants who were not the tentative winners in the FCC’s consideration of the mutually exclusive groups have another shot to get the rights to construct a station, if they can find an open frequency in the next 90 days.  And broadcasters need to watch these amendments, as they could pose interference issues on entirely new channels not previously proposed for use by any LPFM applicant. 
Continue Reading FCC Announces Tentative Winners for 111 Groups of Mutually Exclusive LPFM Applications – FM Broadcasters Have 30 Days to Raise Interference Objections

We wrote last week about the FCC’s determination of which applicants are to be preferred in several groups of mutually exclusive applications for new Low Power FM stations.  We warned full-power FM broadcasters to review the preferred applicants as broadcasters have 30 days from last week’s public notice to file petitions to deny against such LPFM applications citing interference concerns or other issues with those applications.  Now, a number of additional LPFM applications have been found by the FCC to be ready for grant, and broadcasters need to review these applications – and be prepared to review a steady stream of these applications, all with different petition to deny deadlines, over the next few months.  Where did these applications come from?

 In the rules for the LPFM window, the FCC decided that once it made determinations about tentative winners in mutually exclusive groups of applications, all LPFM applicants not selected (or those in ties) could file amendments to their applications seeking new channels – including major changes specifying brand new channels at different sites having no relation to the original application but for meeting the general requirements that the controlling parties in these applicants be local to the service area that they propose to serve.  As these amendments are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis, many LPFM applicants were apparently ready to go with amendments as soon as the list of tentative winners was released.  And these amendments have started to come out on public notices, announcing 30 day petition to deny deadlines (see, for instance, this list of Broadcast Applications released yesterday by the FCC, at pages 8-11).
Continue Reading More LPFM Applications for Broadcasters to Review to Assess Potential Interference Issues, and New Petition to Deny Deadlines

More LPFMs are on the way, and broadcasters have 30 days to file any objections to the coming new stations.  In an order just released by the FCC, the FCC applied its “point system” to select the winning applicant in groups of mutually exclusive applications filed in the recent LPFM window in Western states (as far east as Nebraska and Kansas).  Future selectees in other parts of the country will come in later public notices.  This notice starts the clock on several dates – including a 30 day petition to deny period where full-power stations can raise issues of interference and other issues against applicants, and applicants can raise issues against each other.  The notice also sets a 90 day window for LPFM applicants whose applications were under consideration in this notice to file applications to make changes in their applications – including major changes to new frequencies or different transmitter sites.

The FCC’s notice consists of three documents.  First, there is a description of the action taken by the FCC setting out how the points were awarded to applicants, the options now available to the applicants based on the point system determinations, and the deadlines for the Petitions.  Next, there is a list of the applications that were considered, highlighting the winning applicant in each group of mutually exclusive applicants (or the winning applicants if there was a tie under the point system analysis).  The third document lists all of the applicants on the list who requested waivers of the spacing requirements to full-power stations on second-adjacent channels.  Licensees of full-power stations serving areas near these proposed stations should review these applications carefully.
Continue Reading FCC Applies Point System to Resolve Conflicts Between Mutually Exclusive LPFM Applications – Sets Deadlines for Petitions to Deny and Amendments to Applications

The LPFM applications are in, and counted, and the FCC is actively processing them.  A recent public notice from the FCC about the processing of these applications puts FM broadcasters on notice that they should be checking what was filed in their market areas to make sure that there are no interference issues for their full-power stations or existing translators  The FCC’s public notice about the processing of LPFM applications is available here http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2308A1.pdf

 As you will see, the FCC is first looking to identify “singleton” applications, i.e. those that are not subject to any competing applications.  Once the FCC determines that an application is a singleton, its status in the FCC database will change from the application simply having been “received” to it having been “accepted for filing.”   The acceptance for filing triggers a 30 day petition to deny period, during which broadcasters can object to potential interference from the LPFM or for other violations of the FCC rules on LPFM.  Broadcasters should be looking at local applications, for issues like second-adjacent channel waivers or other issues so that objections can be filed during the petition to deny window against those applications that might be troublesome. 
Continue Reading FCC Processing of LPFM Applications Continues – FM Broadcasters Beware of Potential Interference Issues

On September 26, the FCC will hold its next open meeting and, according to a Public Notice released Friday, will consider several issues important to different parts of the broadcast industry. For television broadcasters, there will be concerns about the proposal to do away with the “UHF discount,” which gives UHF stations a 50% discount in determining the number of households they reach when determining an owner’s compliance with the limitation that prevents any one company from owning television stations that reach more than 39% of the US television households. For radio, the FCC will be getting a report on the preparations for the upcoming LPFM window, allowing applications nationwide for new LPFM stations. That window, as we have written before, is to open from October 15-29. Finally, the FCC will be looking at modifications to its Antenna Structure Registration process – which could be important to all tower owners.

As the UHF discount issue is to be considered by the adoption of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, it is no doubt the more controversial of the broadcast issues to be discussed at the meeting. The discount was adopted by the FCC in analog days, when UHF broadcasters faced significant disadvantages. Analog UHF signals (TV channels 14 and above) simply did not travel as far as VHF signals, were less likely to penetrate buildings (especially as many over-the-air antennas were designed for VHF reception), and were far more costly than VHF operations (as VHF transmitters operated at far lower power levels than do transmitters for UHF operations). But, in the digital world, broadcasters found that the world had been turned on its end – with UHF signals being far preferable, as the VHF digital signal was found to be far more susceptible to interference, especially in urban areas. In the less forgiving digital environment (where a signal is either there or not, instead of the degraded "snowy" picture that you could get in the analog world), the UHF signal is generally preferred – despite the higher power costs and the fact that the signals still don’t travel as far.


Continue Reading FCC Meeting to Consider UHF Discount on National TV Multiple Ownership Rules, LPFM Window, and Tower Registration Issues

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