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REC Statement: Application fees- Amateur Radio before RAYBAUM'S

There continues to be confusion in the Amateur Radio community on how we reached this point with proposed application fees in the Amateur Radio Service.  Some have said that an "exemption for Amateur Radio was removed with RAY BAUM'S". That both is correct and incorrect.  You need to understand the 1986 law and the progress from then to the enactment of RAY BAUM'S. 

Here is some clarification on the way it used to be.  Prior to RAY BAUMS, Public Law 99-272, which was enacted in 1986 stated in Section 158 of the Communications Act, that the Commission shall charge application fees.  Those fees were listed as a fixed table. Amateur Radio was not included as a price point.

19-3: FCC Denies Reconsideration on "Secondary Grants" in MX Groups.

The Federal Communications Commission has denied a Petition for Reconsideration filed in MB Docket 19-3 (the NCE/LPFM administrative rulemaking proceeding) on procedural grounds, upholding the long-standing “one winner per group” policy when resolving mutually exclusive (MX)/competing applications where multiple applications could not be granted due to contour overlap (NCE) or distance separation (LPFM) requirements.  

The Petition, filed by Discount Legal called for the Commission to re-look at “secondary grants”, which are situations of where, after eliminating less than qualified applications or applications that did not meet FCC requirements would create a “stray” applicant that would otherwise be grantable if the unqualified applicants are removed. 

FCC releases proposal for new filing fee structure - LPFM/NCE remains exempt - new fees for ham radio

On Wednesday, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270 which implements portions of the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act of 2018 (or RAY BAUM’S Act), which gives the FCC statutory authority to collect application fees.  As a part of the Act, the FCC is required to switch from a fee structure mandated by Congress 20 years ago to a new cost-based system.  This change will result in some fees being reduced and in some cases, such as the Amateur Radio Service, new fees are being added.

REC offers proposal to permit older uncertified professional grade transmitters in LPFM but maintain a ban against kits and pirate gear

REC Networks has filed a statement with the FCC in MB Docket 19-193 to offer a compromise solution that would allow LPFM stations to use “hand me down” transmitters that were formerly in service by other broadcast and FM translator stations while still protecting the integrity of the spectrum from dangerous uncertified equipment.

In our Opposition to the two Petitions for Reconsideration filed in this proceeding, REC addressed some concerns to the petition filed by Todd Urick where it comes to permitting transmitters that have not been specifically type-certified into the LPFM service.  Currently, §73.1660(a)(2) requires LPFM stations to use certified transmitters.

In our Reply statement, REC has recognized that LPFM stations have had to miss out on opportunities to receive used surplus transmission equipment that may have been recently removed from service at a full-service or FM translator station due to changes at the station such as a digital audio chain and/or HD Radio. 

Statement of REC Networks: FM/AM Duplication Rule

Three weeks ago, when the Report and Order for MB Docket 19-310 went to circulation draft, we had a good decision.  The FCC was going to eliminate the duplication rule for AM radio but keep it for FM radio.  The duplication rule prohibits two commonly owned stations in the same service from duplicating more than 25% of programming in generally the same area.  

Aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias affected REC and Riverton: Limited Operations Resume on Wednesday

On Tuesday, August 4, the effect of 60 mile per hour gusts resulted in multiple trees falling on power lines causing a power outage at approximately 9:30AM EDT that affected the Riverton area, thus impacting operations at REC.  4 miles south of Riverton in Mardela Springs, a tornado touched down causing a home to be lifted off of its foundation.  In the course of 5 hours, the DASDEC-II EAS decoder at REC Networks picked up 23 tornado warnings, including 7 for Wicomico County where Riverton is located.

At approximately 10:45 PM on Tuesday, Delmarva Power has restored service to Riverton.

Pai: NCE and LPFM filing windows are coming

The FCC released a July 21, 2020 letter from Chairman Ajit Pai to New Mexico Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM-02) in reply to her inquiry on the future of filing windows for new LPFM stations.  In this letter, the Chairman stated that before there is an LPFM window, there will be a filing window for full-service NCE stations.  NCE stations have been waiting longer for a filing window (2007 for reserved band, 2010 for commercial-band vacant allotments) than LPFM has (2013).  

RM-11858: REC opposes proposal to turn translators into commercial LPFM stations without LCRA oversight, increase interference and circumvent rural radio protections

Map showing the 70, 60 and 45 dBu contours of WRTM-FM and the 60 and 70 dBu contours of two translators serving Jackson, Mississippi.

REC Networks has filed comments opposing RM-11858, the Petition for Rulemaking originated by “Broadcasters for Local Program Origination” (BLPO).  The BLPO petition called for FM translators to be able to reak off of their primary stations to provide separate programming for up to 128 hours per week, use special call signs with an “-FX” suffix, only be required to broadcast 40 hours of “translated” programming per week from the primary station and to allow commercial FM broadcast stations be permitted to extend commonly owned or financed translators outside of the primary station’s service contour (60/57/54 dBu) to 45 dBu.

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