FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News Media Contact:
September 22, 2000 David Fiske (202) 418-0513
FCC ADOPTS RECONSIDERATION ORDER FOR LOW POWER FM RADIO:
AFFIRMS PROVISIONS OF ORIGINAL ORDER; INSTITUTES PROTECTION FOR RADIO READING SERVICES AND INTERFERENCE COMPLAINT PROCEDURE
Washington, D.C. - The FCC has affirmed its order creating a new low power FM radio service, created a procedure to resolve complaints from listeners of full power radio stations claiming unexpected interference from LPFM stations and provided additional protection for those stations providing radio reading services for blind or low vision listeners.
In a Memorandum Opinion and Order on Reconsideration, the Commission reiterated its views that the new 100 watt (LP100) and 10 watt (LP10) classes of FM radio service would provide opportunities for new voices to be heard, while at the same time preserving the integrity and technical excellence of existing FM radio service and safeguarding a digital transition for radio.
The Commission reaffirmed its finding that the risk of interference from LPFM stations is small and did not require LPFM stations in general to provide 3rd adjacent channel protection to full power FM stations.
However, in response to concerns expressed by parties, including Radio Reading Service and National Public Radio, the Commission adopted an exception that provides additional protection to radio reading services transmitted via FM station subcarrier facilities. Pending its analysis of a study being conducted to assess the performance of specialized equipment used to receive radio reading services, the Commission will require LPFM stations to meet 3rd adjacent channel spacing standards with respect to existing full power stations operating radio reading services as of the date of this Order.
The Commission also adopted new complaint procedures for the LPFM service in response to concerns expressed by full power FM broadcasters. These procedures are intended to ensure that if any unexpected, significant 3rd adjacent channel interference problems are caused by the operation of a particular LPFM station, they can be resolved expeditiously. The procedures would be triggered when a full power FM station receives complaints of interference by the LPFM station from one percent of its listeners in the area in which it is most likely to experience interference.
The first stage of the complaint process would involve cooperative efforts between LPFM and full power FM licensees to identify and resolve bona fide interference complaints, with FCC field agents available where necessary to assist the parties in identifying the source of interference and identifying possible solutions. If the stations are not able to resolve the interference issues cooperatively, the Commission will commence an expedited modification procedure through which it will resolve the complaints within 90 days.
The Commission modified the single-station ownership rule to allow government public safety and transportation organizations to apply for multiple LPFM stations for disseminating traffic, safety and other information where the additional applications are not subject to conflicting applications. Similarly, where there are no conflicting applications, the Commission stated that applications would be accepted for university student-run LPFM stations from universities holding full power FM licenses that are not student-run.
The Commission said separate college campuses within a university system, or individual high schools under a single school board, could each apply individually for LPFM licenses. It also clarified that ITFS stations run by universities and colleges that only transmit educational programming offered for credit are not considered a "broadcast service" under the FCC ownership rules. The Commission also confirmed that Indian tribes meeting the eligibility criteria for non-commercial educational stations could apply for LPFM licenses.
In upholding most of the findings from the January 2000 Report and Order, the Commission rejected arguments by petitioners proposing more stringent channel separation requirements, as well as arguments in favor of relaxing those requirements. The Commission declined to modify the permissible power levels for the service and declined to alter the noncommercial nature of the service.
The Commission affirmed its point system to determine selection among mutually exclusive applications, and clarified that the credit for programming that is locally originated could include broadcasting of an event more than 10 miles from the station, such as a high school football game, as long as the production facilities of the station are located within the required 10-mile radius of the antenna.
The Commission affirmed its decision that imposing public file and ownership reporting requirements on LPFM licensees would impose a burden that is out of proportion to the small noncommercial nature of LPFM stations. It also affirmed its decision to apply its character qualifications policy with respect to operators of illegal broadcast stations and its views that a party that continued to operate in contravention of an FCC direction to cease operations should not be eligible to apply for an LPFM license.
Information on LPFM rules and the LPFM application process is available on the FCC's LPFM website at www.fcc.gov/lpfm or interested parties can call the FCC's toll free telephone number 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).
Action by the Commission September 20, 2000 (FCC 00-349).
- FCC -
MM Docket No. 99-25.
Mass Media Contact: Susanna Zwerling and Julie Barrie at (202) 418-2600
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