House gives thumbs up to low power FM radio


The prospects for low power FM operator-wannabes got considerably brighter as the House of Representatives cleared rules that will make it easier to locate the stations. Third adjacency protection is eliminated except in certain cases, and LPFMs will not be permitted to interfere with incumbents. The bill passed by voice vote during the evening hours of 12/16/09.

The bill sets up numerous mechanisms to deal with any interference that may occur with third adjacent channels. In fact, for a year after sign-on, any LPFM station on a third-adjacent frequency must periodically announce on-air that it may be interfering with another station, and if a listener is in fact trying to tune in that other station, the announcement advises them to report the interference to the FCC.

LPFMs are required to fully cooperate when interference is detected: “Low-power FM stations on third-adjacent channels shall be required to address complaints of interference within the protected contour of an affected station and shall be encouraged to address all other interference complaints, including complaints to the Federal Communications Commission based on interference to a full-service FM station, an FM translator station, or an FM booster station by the transmitter site of a low-power FM station on a third-adjacent channel at any distance from the full-service FM station, FM translator station, or FM booster station. The Federal Communications Commission shall provide notice to the licensee of a low-power FM station of the existence of such interference within 7 calendar days of the receipt of a complaint from a listener or another station.”
Among other things, the FCC is required to “permit the submission of informal evidence of interference, including any engineering analysis that an affected station may commission.”

The bill also retains third adjacent protection for stations using subcarriers for radio reading services.

The FCC is also instructed to make sure that LPFMs are not granted to the exclusion of FM translators and boosters, and that decisions on what to license where should be based on the needs of the community.

The FCC is also ordered to conduct an economic study on the impact of LPFM on full power stations within a year.

RBR-TVBR observation: So now it’s on to the Senate and the White House – then to the FCC for implementation. Ready or not, here it comes.