Revised Statement of REC Networks: RadioWorld LPFM article published June 14, 2021
On June 14, 2021, RadioWorld published an article with the headline "FCC Seems To Affirm 100-Watt LPFM Limit". The article suggested that despite the fact that the FCC had brought REC's Simple250 proposal to Public Notice that the suggestion that Acting Chairwoman Janet Rosenworcel's comments in her personal blog that the upcoming action on the Order on Reconsideration bringing "finality to the rules" would render Simple250 "dead in the water".
Later that evening, REC reached out to the RadioWorld Editor in Chief regarding this article, claiming that the article was not properly researched and that stakeholders were not contacted in connection with the article and that the article was pure speculation on the part of the author. As a result, RadioWorld did respond to REC and promptly updated the article including a headline change and editorial changes to the story. We note that email "newsletter" versions of the article and the article URL may continue to have the old headline as those could not be changed in time.
REC thanks RadioWorld for addressing this issue in their reporting of this issue that is important to hundreds of LPFM stations across the country and impacting thousands if not millions of listeners and potential listeners of LPFM stations, especially those in underserved rural areas.
The draft Order on Reconsideration merely upholds the FCC’s prior decisions made in the Report and Order in MB Docket 19-193, which prompted Petitions for Reconsideration by two different groups (Todd Urick, et. al. and Foundation for a Beautiful Life). The issues that were upheld included:
- The FCC’s decision not to move forward with the previous LP-250 proposal as outlined in RM-11810, which included the controversial “§73.815 Regime” proposal that consisted of a hybrid of distance separation, contour overlap and directional antennas to allow LPFM stations to be on a more equal footing as FM translators,
- The FCC’s decision to continue to require that LPFM stations must use certified transmitters despite the rest of the broadcast service being allowed to use transmitters that only have a Manufacturers Declaration of Conformity,
- The FCC’s decision to continue to require proof of performance in a rare number of cases where LPFM stations utilize directional antennas for a reason other than those that are already exempted (public safety, second adjacent channel waivers and international agreement), and
- The FCC’s standing policy that any rule-changes will not be retroactive to any previously filed applications for which the FCC originally denied or dismissed by a letter decision.
The “finality” that Acting Chair Rosenworcel suggests is the finality of these specific pending issues and once they were finalized, the Commission could proceed with a LPFM filing window, which will follow sometime after November’s full-service noncommercial educational filing window.
It is important to remember that prior to the full Commission voting on last year’s Report and Order in MB Docket 19-193, REC did inform FCC staff in ex parte presentations that we would not file a Petition for Reconsideration on the Report and Order despite the fact that we had addressed the FCC’s concerns regarding simplicity and Local Community Radio Act compliance in an ex parte presentation made several days before the mandatory “sunshine” period cut off one week prior to the scheduled meeting. At the time, REC stated that we would reintroduce the Simple250 proposal as a new Petition for Rulemaking in an effort to give it a “full set of downs”. The Commission did recognize this in the Order on Reconsideration by not only acknowledging that REC did not file a Petition for Reconsideration but also placed the Simple250 Petition for Rulemaking, which has been sitting at the Commission for about a year on to Public Notice less than a week prior to the release of the circulation draft of the Order on Reconsideration that will be acted on or before this Thursday.
Simple250 addresses two very specific FCC concerns that “broke” the previous LP-250 proposal:
- Complexity. The FCC did not want to add more complexity to the LPFM service by requiring more contour studies in the service. While our proposal in RM-11810 did continue to provide a “non-complex” route by not making any changes to the existing LP-100 service rules and due to the fact that more than 50% of the applications filed in the 2013 window were done with “hired help”, the FCC wanted to maintain a level of simplicity for LPFM. To answer this, Simple250 was merely added as an “overlay” class of service, which permitted the larger 7.1 kilometer service contour for stations that qualified.
- LCRA Compliance. Despite originally being proposed by the 2012 FCC, the 2020 FCC had determined that in order to remain compliant with the Local Community Radio Act (LCRA), that an arbitrary 20 kilometer buffer zone protection to full-service stations, an element that has been in place since “day one” of LPFM needs to be a part of the interference equation in order to comply with Section 3(b)(1) of the LCRA prohibiting the Commission from reducing minimum distance separation requirements to full-service stations. To answer this, Simple250 includes a new distance separation table for LP-250 stations that fully respects the 20 kilometer buffer zone. While this new distance table removed many opportunities for urban LPFM stations, it did keep the door open for a large majority of suburban, rural and deep rural LPFMs with a few remaining urban opportunities.
REC continues to feel that today’s FCC will have more of an appetite for an LP250 rural expansion as compared to the previous Pai and O’Reilly FCC.
Comments in proceeding RM-11909 are being collected at the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System until June 21, 2021.
Despite some past speculation, LP-250 is not dead in the water. We are just starting over with a new plan and a different Commission.
More information and updates about LP-250 can be found at