Summary of changes in the 6th Report and Order

Here is a summary of the changes that took place in the FCC's Fifth Order on Reconsideration and Sixth Report and Order on Low Power FM.


Third Adjacent Channel

Section 7(1) stations (those that do not meet the second/third adjacent spacing in 73.807) must eliminate any actual interference they may cause to the signal of any authorized station in areas where that station is "regularly used" (same rules as translators).

Section 7(3) stations (all LPFM stations) must address complaints of third adjacent channel interference within the affected station's protected contour.

Third adjacent channel protections remain in effect in respect to foreign FM stations and assignments as well as FM stations that are operating a radio reading service for the blind.

Third adjacent channel LPFM stations will be required to broadcast periodic announcements on the following schedule:

  • On days 1 through 30 of operation, one announcement shall be made between either 7AM and 9AM or between 4PM and 6PM.  A second announcement shall be made outside these time slots. Stations must vary the times of these announcements.  For time share stations, the "time slotted" announcement must be made within the first two hours of operation.
  • On days 31 through 365, a minimum of two announcements per week between 7AM and midnight.

LPFM stations may co-locate or operate from a transmitter site within 500 meters of a third adjacent station.  Such a move will be considered a minor change even if the distance exceeds 5.6 km.

Puerto Rico will not be considered as a "state" for the purpose of 7(6) of the LCRA.  LPFM stations in and near New Jersey will be subject to additional third adjacent channel interference policies based on the LPFM's distance to a third adjacent New Jersey FM station based on co-channel minimum distance separation.

REC has some issues with the third adjacent rules language.  We are looking into it.

Second Adjacent Channel

The FCC plans to use the commonly accepted method of showing non-interference to second adjacent channel by translators where it comes to LPFM. (No actual interference will occur due to lack of population)  Applicants may file a "worst-case" assumption about the overlap area and being able to use a USGS or Google Map to demonstrate lack of population in this area.  The FCC states that a consulting engineer may not be required to file a second adjacent channel waiver.  (REC strongly recommends a consulting engineer if the waiver involves a directional antenna and/or reduced power.)

The FCC will not implement a NAB request to require LPFM applicants to notify affected second-adjacent channel full-power stations prior to operation.  While FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai recommended that LPFM stations work together with full-power stations, there is no required notification process. The FCC will specify which second-adjacent channels are impacted in the public notice that accepts the LPFM application for filing.

LPFM stations will be permitted to use directional antennas, lower ERP (minimum 50W at 30m HAAT, 4.7 km service contour) and differing antenna polarization to demonstrate their service will not cause interference.

The FCC reminds LPFM applicants that the waivers are for second adjacent only.  Not co-channel or first-adjacent channel.

Interference remediation policy will be the same as the one currently used for FM translators.

Intermediate Frequency (I.F.)

LPFM stations operating 100 watts or less will no longer be required to protect the IF channels (+/- 10.6~10.8 MHz) of domestic full power FM stations and FM translators. IF protections are still required in respect to foreign FM stations.  The "less than 100" watts remains in the translator rules but may be changed in a future rulemaking.

Translator Inputs

LPFM stations may not operate in areas near translators that receive their input signal directly off the air on a channel third adjacent to the LPFM station and is in a potential interference area (PIA) of:

  • within 2 km of the translator in all directions, or
  • within 10 km of the translator and within a zone bordered by an azimuth of -30 degrees to +30 degrees of the bearing between the translator and the primary FM station (or feeding translator if daisy chained).

Within the PIA, the LPFM applicant may use Section 2.7 of the MITRE report to demonstrate that the ratio of signal strength of the LPFM (undesired) to the primary (desired) station is below 34 dB at all locations.  The LPFM applicant may also use the equation shown in 2.7 of the MITRE report.

Existing LPFM stations on Second Adjacent Channel waiver STA

The previous second adjacent waiver policy that put a priority of the loss of an LPFM service to potential interference to a small overlap area population is not consistent with the LCRA.  The FCC wants stations who wish to continue to operate with this variance must, within 30 days following the effective date of the second adjacent channel waiver rules, amend its pending application for a construction permit to operate with the facilities specified in its STA and attach an exhibit that the operation would not interfere with any authorized radio service.

The FCC does note that a station's history of operating at a variance (STA) without any complaints of interference would be a relevant factor in determining whether the station's operations will result in any interference to any authorized radio service.

Classes of Service

The FCC will not license any LP-10 stations citing sustainability issues (whether an LP-10 station can be financially stable) as well as noise floor issues (the ability for LP-10 stations to function in metro areas despite interference from distant stations).

The FCC will not license any LP-250 stations.  REC speculates it is because the FCC wants to avoid a controversy that was brought up by full-power interests stating that the original intention of the Local Community Radio Act (LCRA) intended only 10 and 100 watt stations.  When the FCC created LPFM, they included a 20 kilometer "buffer zone" around each full-power FM station.  This was intended to allow full-power stations to make changes with causing minimal issues to the LPFM station.  When the LP-250 service was designed, they used the same distance separation requirements as LP-100 for co-channel and first-adjacent channel.  They were able to do that by disregarding the buffer zones.  REC feels that the FCC is trying to avoid a Petition for Reconsideration or possible litigation over this issue. 

For the same reasons why the FCC rejected LP-250, they have also rejected LP-50.

All LPFM stations at this time will be LP-100.

Local Nature of LPFM

Only local organizations will be permitted to submit applications and to hold authorizations in the LPFM service.

Translators for LPFM Stations

LPFM licensees will be permitted to own up to 2 FM translators (except for Native/Tribal Nations)

Translators owned by LPFM licensees will be under the following conditions:

  • There must be overlap between the 60 dBu contour of the LPFM station and its commonly owned translator.
  • The translator must receive the LPFM station directly over the air and not daisy-chained from anohter translator.
  • A LPFM station in the top-50 markets may only have translators within 10 miles of the transmitter site where outside of the top-50 markets, the translator may be up to 20 miles away.
  • The translator must rebroadcast the analog main program (HD-1) of the commonly-owned LPFM station.

Native/Tribal Nations

Native/Tribal Nations will be permitted to own up to 2 LPFM stations and 4 FM translators.

To qualify for Tribal Nation station, the transmitter site must be on tribal land.

Tribal Nations may file two LPFM applications.

Cross-ownership between LPFM and full power (AM, FM and TV) by Tribal Nations is prohibited.

Student Stations

The FCC has accepted REC"s request to remove the student station provision of the FCC rules that would dismiss student run station applications at institutions that are also AM, FM or TV licensees.  This will mean that applications for student operated stations will remain active and that these applicants will compete for points and can enter into timeshare agreements.


Points will be awarded for:

  • Established community presence.  At least 2 years.  (The FCC did not extend this to 4 years as originally proposed),
  • Local programming origination. LPFM applicant pledges to originate at least 8 hours of local programming per day.  Local programming is defined as:
    • production of programming by the licensee within 10-miles of the transmitting antenna,
    • produced call-in shows,
    • music selected and played by a (live) disc jockey present on site,
    • broadcasts of events at local schools,
    • broadcasts of musical performances at a local studio or festival.
    • Local programming does NOT include repetitive or automated programming or time-shifted recordings of non-local programming as well as repeats of local programming, even if there are minor variations to the program.
  • Main Studio. Applicant pledges to have a publicly accessible main studio with program origination capability, reachable by telephone and staffed at least 20 hours per week between 7AM and 10PM.  Main studio must be located within 10 miles of the transmitting antenna in the Top-50 markets and within 20 miles away in all other areas. 
  • Bonus point for both local programming and main studio.
  • Diversity of ownership.  An applicant must hold no attributable interests in any other broadcast station (e.g. translator owner applying for LPFM would not qualify).
  • Tribal applicant serving tribal lands.

The FCC has rejected the concept of using consortia.

Time Sharing

The current successive license system will be eliminated.  It will be replaced by a concurrent license scheme which may include mandatory time sharing.

The FCC accepts a modified version of REC's involuntary time share proposal as a last resort in the event of a tie and a voluntary time share agreement can not be reached between the proponents.  If there are two applicants, two time slots will be available (3 AM~3PM & 3PM~3AM).  If there are three applicants, three time slots will be available (2AM~10AM, 10AM~6PM, 6PM~2AM).  If there are more than three applicants, the group will be reduced to three applicants based on their community presence dates.  Applicants in an involuntary time share can "bid" for their time slot with the first choice given to the applicant with the longest community presence. 

After three years of operation, any LPFM station that is not operating at least 12 hours a day may be required to share time with another LPFM station.

The FCC rejected the "mini-window" concept for applying for abandoned airtime.

Filing Window

The FCC is targeting a filing window on or before October 15, 2013. 

The FCC plans to conduct a single filing window without the need to file separate short and long forms.

FM Translators (on reconsideration)

Nationwide Cap

The FCC has expanded the national cap to 70 pending translators from the original 50.  The additional 20 pending translator applications must meet the following provisions:

  • The applications must be located outside the 150+ Arbitron counties as defined in "Appendix A".
  • The applications must protect LPFM protected channel/points.
  • The applicant must show that either:
    • If the FM Translator was removed, there would still be no available LPFM channel at the translator's transmitter site, and
    • If LPFM is available at the site, that there would still be LPFM availability if the translator application is granted.
  • The 60dBu service contour of the proposed translator can not overlap the 60 dBu service contour of any other granted translator or translator application for the same party as the applicant.
  • Within the first 4-years of operation, the translator can not be moved into an urban area (market).

The following applicants may benefit from this change:

  • Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls, Inc.
  • Community Broadcasting, Inc.
  • Covenant Network
  • Edgewater Broadcasting, Inc.
  • Educational Media Foundation
  • Indiana Community Radio Corporation
  • Radio Assist Ministry
  • Robert J. Connelley, Jr.

Per-Market Cap

The FCC has expanded the "per-market" cap from 1  to 3 pending applications in each Arbitron market (both spectrum limited and spectrum available) as listed in Appendix A.

If the translator applicant decides to prosecute 2 or 3 translator applications within a market, all two or three applications would be subject to the following limitations:

  • The applications must protect LPFM protected channel/points.
  • The applicant must show that either:
    • If the FM Translator was removed, there would still be no available LPFM channel at the translator's transmitter site, and
    • If LPFM is available at the site, that there would still be LPFM availability if the translator application is granted.
  • The 60dBu service contour of the proposed translator can not overlap the 60 dBu service contour of any other granted translator or translator application for the same party as the applicant.

If 2 or 3 applications are proscecuted, a showing must be made to demonstrate compliance.  If there is no showing or it is deficient, the FCC will only process the first application under the original one-to-a-maket policy.

Market Definition

Market assignment for a particular translator is based on the county that the proposed transmitter site is physically in.

"Embedded" markets are considered distinct for per-market caps.  For example, the San Jose and Santa Rosa embedded markets of the San Francisco market are considered distinct and are subject to their own 3-to-a-market rule.