19-193: REC calls on the FCC to resume consideration of LP-250, LPFM relief due to translators.. supports removal of Ch. 6 protections.. gets frank about EAS.

In response to the FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in MB Docket 19-193, REC Networks, the author of most of the items in the proceeding has filed comments with the FCC to support the various items the Commission has agreed to move forward and has also petitioned to have several items that were tentatively rejected brought back into discussion.

REC has asked for LP-250 to be considered despite tentative rejection over a very controversial REC proposal that would have used the shorter "LP-10" distance separation requirements coupled with a contour study to determine separation to full-service FM stations.  In comments, REC has asked the Comission to withdraw the proposed "§73.815 Regime" and instead, counterproposes a LP-250 concept that utilizes aspects of both REC petitions, RM-11749 and RM-11810 as well as taking into consideration feedback from NAB, EMF and other incumbent users:

  • LP-250 would only be available as an upgrade to already licensed LP-100 stations and should be available at any time as a minor change.  Upgrades for LP-100 stations authorized in subsequent windows can take place after the LP-100 station is constructed and licensed.
  • Like with RM-11749, LP-250 would involve a minimum distance separation using the same values as LP-100 for co- and first-adjacent channel full-service.  The 20 km "buffer zone" would be penetrated to compensate for the additional interfering contour between LP-100 and LP-250.  Other distance separation requirements would increase slightly due to LP-250's larger interfering contour.
  • LP-250 stations operating with an ERP of 101 watts or more must also protect intermediate frequencies (+/- 10.6 and 10.8 MHz) of full-service FM stations.
  • In addition to meeting distance separation requirements, an LP-250 application must include a contour study that clearly demonstrates that the interfering contour of the proposed LP-250 station would not overlap the protected contours of any other station.  LP-250 applications may use reduced power and with some limitations, directional antennas to demonstrate a lack of contour overlap.
  • LP-250 stations would be subject to an interference remediation policy similar to that recently enacted for FM translators.  LP-250 stations that experience real-world issues at LP-250 may have to downgrade to LP-100 to resolve the interference. 
  • There are no proposed changes to the LP-100 service rules.
  • Based on NAB comments, REC had analyized the suggestion of requiring LP-250 stations to have a third-adjacent channel protection requirement which could be waivable, like second adjacent channel.  REC's conclusion was that while a third-adjacent channel requirement would preclude some LPFM stations from being able to upgrade to LP-250, the language in the LCRA prohibits the FCC from imposing any third-adjacent channel protection requirements.  REC notes that the existing third-adjacent channel interference remediation rule, which is required by the LCRA is even stricter than the recent changes to the FM translator rules.

REC has also asked for the FCC to reopen the discussion of the tentatively rejected proposals to allow LPFM stations to get relief as a result of modifications made by directional FM translators and for the ability for LPFM stations to short-space other LPFM stations such as in cases of intervening terrain.  As a part of this package of rules, REC had requested:

  • If the proposed LPFM application results in a new or shortened short-spacing with an FM translator or other LPFM station, a contour study can be used to demonstrate that the interfering contour of the proposed facility does not overlap the protected contour of the short-spaced incumbent facility. Applications may use reduced power and with some limitations, directional antennas to demonstrate a lack of contour overlap.
  • Stations that are short-spaced in this manner would be subject to the interference remediation policies similar to those recently changed for FM translators.  

REC is motioning for the Commission to bring back LP-250, FM translator relief and LPFM short-spacing in a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to assure a complete record on these issues and to not delay any future filing windows.

On TV Channel 6 stations, REC fully supports the elimination of the Channel 6 protection requirements by all classes of FM facilities in the reserved (88.1~91.9) band.  REC supports the interim LPFM Channel 6 process and suggests that even before enactment, waiver requests should be entertained.  REC also calls for the elimination of the so-called "Franken FM" application for Low Power TV Channel 6 stations including the proposed technology that would reduce the digital television bandwidth and insert an analog carrier for receiption on an FM receiver but not be receivable on a television.  REC states that the "Franken FM" industry calls this an "ancillary" service and that the reception and distribution of devices that receive "ancillary" services is a violation of the US Criminal Code (Title 18).  

REC supports the various issues that were not tentatively rejected including relief for LPFM stations near the Mexican border, the extension of a minor change past 5.6 kilometers and the codification of FM boosters for LPFM.

At the request of the Commission, REC discusses various issues regarding EAS including issues surrounding costs for equipment and subsequent software updates and the need for an open source alternative for "decode only" participants such as LPFM stations that are at the end of the food chain.  REC discusses the incompatability between the jurisdictions of the EAS operational areas and the hyperlocal nature of LPFM citing that some LPFMs do not participate in local EAS alerts because most alerts do not correspond to the hyperlocal area of the LPFM station.  REC recommends that FEMA and the FCC implement various changes to EAS including open "read-only" access to alert data without the need for a Memorandum of Understanding and to expand the number of FIPS codes used in larger counties to better regionalize alert areas.  While REC does not support the complete elimination of the LPFM requirements, REC has asked for the Commission to temporarily stop enforcing EAS regulations on LPFM stations until additional reforms can be put in place to assure that LPFM stations can participate. 

Finally, REC added two new issues including the silent station loophole (LPFM stations do not have a rule requiring FCC notification in 10 days, we propose to that the FCC fix this) and to advance a proposal made by the Low Power FM Advocacy Group in RM-11753 regarding call signs for LPFM stations.

A copy of REC's filing can be found here:

Reply comments in this proceeding are due on November 4, 2019.

Media contact:
Michelle Bradley
202 621-2355

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