[Revised] Statement of REC Networks: LPFM's exclusion in the incentive auction reimbursement proposal
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Artlce updated. See below.
While we are awaiting the full text of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this proceeding, we do have concerns based on comments made during the Commission's Open Meeting and in the News Release published by the Commission on Thursday regarding the proposal to reimburse full-service FM and FM translator stations that are forced to be displaced from their tower sites by TV stations participating in the incentive auction.
Impacted radio stations may need to temporarily or permanently change tower locations due to changes being made by TV stations. This reimbursement fund, recently extended by Congress to also cover radio will cover full-service FM stations and FM translators but there was no mention of LPFM stations.
At this time, REC is seeking out any LPFM stations that will be impacted by the repack and forced to temporarily or permanently relocate at their own expense due to TV facility changes directly related to the incentive auction/repack. LPFM stations are urged to contact REC using the contact form at https://recnet.com/contact.
Our review of the statutory language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act does leave room for LPFM stations to be included. Also to be fair, as of the time of this writing, the NPRM has not been released.
For now, REC needs to determine the impact of this in the event that LPFM language is omitted from the NPRM.
Added 8/3/2018 8PM EDT:
The FCC did release the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The NPRM claims that the statutory language does specifically state LPFM stations but it does define an FM broadcast station cross referencing to the definition of an FM broadcast station in §73.310 of the the rules. Within this section, an FM broadcast station is defined as:
A station employing frequency modulation in the FM broadcast band and licensed primarily for the transmission of radiotelephone emissions intended to be received by the general public. (47 CFR §73.310(a)(2)).
In the NPRM, the FCC acknowledges that this definition could also be extended to LPFM stations and likewise, §73.310 does apply to the LPFM service as noted in §73.801 of the rules, the section that states what non-LPFM rules also apply to LPFM. The NPRM does ask whether LPFM stations need to be included in the reimbursement plan.
REC feels that by principle, yes, LPFM should be included. This ongoing treatment by the FCC of the LPFM service as some bastard step-child of the broadcast service continues to demonstrate ongoing discrimination that LPFM stations face in regulatory decisions going back to the creation of the service. LPFM stations have already been recognized as licensed FM broadcast stations by the Commission in some translator interference cases where LPFM was not specifically called out as a "protected" service because the rule predates LPFM by 10 years. We have also seen this misunderstanding take place when the Commission implemented the Local Community Radio Act of 2011. We are trying to cure those misunderstandings in RM-11810.
With that said, REC still wants to hear from LPFM stations that are co-located on TV towers (full-service TV or Class A) and have been told that they have to temporarily or permanently relocate due to TV antenna related construction or tower dismantling. Please use the contact form at https://recnet.com/contact.
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About REC Networks: REC is a leading policy voice supporting a citizen’s ability to access radio spectrum. The advocacy side of REC was responsible for the writing of RM-11749, the 250-watt LPFM proposal and RM-11810, the LPFM improvement petition. Other REC advocacy initiatives include alternate spectrum for community radio expansion in areas where FM spectrum is not available, driving changes to the FCC rules to allow more flexibility for LPFM stations while remaining compliant with the Local Community Radio Act. REC serves all six segments of LPFM including cause-based organizations, public sector agencies, micro radio stations, community media organizations, secular educational organizations and faith-based organizations. REC also provides consulting and filing services for LPFM stations, FM translators (including FM translators related to smaller AM broadcast stations) and full-service FM stations. REC operates several radiocommunications related websites and REC-FM, the official audio stream of REC Networks in conjunction with the Riverton Radio Project. More information about REC is at our website http://recnet.com.