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19-311: FCC adopts Report and Order to permit all-digital AM broadcasting

The Federal Communications Commission has voted 5-0 today to adopt a Report and Order in MB Docket 19-311 for all-digital AM broadcasting. 

In the circulation draft, released three weeks prior to today’s meeting, the order calls for the ability for AM stations to voluntarily switch to an all digital operation using the Xperi (Ibiquity) HD Radio MA3 standard of in-band on-channel (IBOC) broadcasting.

REC Advisory Letter for LPFM stations operating on channels 201~221 (88.1~92.1): NCE filing window

The following is a first Advisory Letter from REC Networks to Low Power FM (LPFM) stations operating on reserved band channels 201~220 (88.1~91.9) and on channel 221 (92.1), which is first adjacent to channel 220 (91.9) to inform these stations about an upcoming filing window at the FCC for primary full-service facilities that can cause interference to or displace secondary LPFM stations.

In 2021, the Federal Communications Commission is planning to hold a filing window for new full-service noncommercial educational (NCE) broadcast stations in the “reserved band” (channels 201~220, frequencies 88.1~91.9).  This window will be for new full-service “full-power” FM broadcast stations with effective radiated powers of up to 50 or 100 kW, depending on which portion of the country the station is located in.   The last such filing window was conducted in 2007.  Stations from this window could be on the air as soon as very late 2021 or 2022.

Updated: REC Advisory Letter: LPFM stations carrying network programming from "Relevant Radio"

Relevant Radio” is the brand name of a radio service operated by Immaculate Heart Radio (IHR).  Relevant Radio is a 24-hour Catholic programming service that provides a noncommercial programming source to affiliated stations across the country as well as through digital delivery.  IHR, operating as Relevant Radio, Inc. owns several dozen full-service AM and FM broadcast stations and has been commended in the past by REC for preserving the legacy call letters of the stations that they acquire, including the infamous KHJ, Los Angeles.  A couple of years ago, IHR had converted their stations from noncommercial educational to commercial and in their markets have been selling time.  This, while maintaining a noncommercial stream for affiliated stations not owned by IHR. 

Statement of REC Networks

In order to protect the integrity of the LPFM service by preventing commercial influence through speculation and “shadow ownership” (control of a station by an undisclosed third party), REC has filed Informal Objections against applications where it was supsected that speculative behavior was taking place. In other words, a single party filing for multiple facilities with the intention of either building a radio network or to sell the permits to other parties for a profit. 

REC Statement: Nomination of Nathan Simington to FCC

With the upcoming vacancy on the Federal Communications Commission as a result of the end of Commissioner O’Rielly’s term that has not been renewed by the President, the current administration has the right to nominate someone to serve as a Commissioner at the FCC.  It is important to remember that the Commission consists of two members from the majority party and two from the minority party and the Chairman, who reflects the majority party at the time.

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.

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