NAB renews its objections to LP-250

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Group wants FCC to reject latest LPFM proposal

Posted: July 7, 2021

The National Association of Broadcasters remains steadfast in its opposition to an increase in the power of the LPFM service in the United States despite a new plan by a low power advocate to simplify the process to increase the maximum power level of many stations from 100 to 250 watts.

REC Networks’ Simple 250 LPFM proposal is currently under review by the FCC and would amend Parts 73 and 74 of the Rules to create an LP-250 Class of Service with an effective service contour of approximately 4.5 miles in addition to the current LP100 service. .

However, NAB continues to argue that the petition does not justify such a drastic change to the LPFM service. In response to comments filed this week, the group reiterates concerns about possible interference with FM translators and how an increase in power would contradict the FCC’s goal of preserving the “simple nature” of LPFM.

[Read: LP-250 FM Petition Draws Lots of Interest]

The NAB told the FCC that granting a maximum power level of 250 watts would put LPFM stations on a par with 250-watt Class A stations.

“Accessing the REC application would effectively provide LPFM stations with the same coverage as full-service Part 73 FM stations, but with a fraction of the obligations. Since any LPFM entity is always free to request a Class A FM station, which would operate with the same radiated power as the REC request, the NAB respectfully requests the FCC to prohibit such circumvention of its rules and to reject the petition, ”the NAB commented. to the FCC.

The NAB was joined by the Educational Media Foundation (EMF), the largest owner of non-commercial religious stations in the United States, which opposes the adoption of the Simple LPFM plan. EMF, which also deploys a large network of FM translators, said in comments that the plan under consideration would dangerously allow LPFMs to increase their power without any consideration of whether it would cause real interference with other stations.

“The NAB echoes EMF’s concerns that the petition effectively ignores the potentially harmful interference that increased LPFM power will cause to existing radio services,” commented the NAB. And while REC says its proposal will result in “only de minimis disruption “of the FM radio service, the NAB said it thought the characterization was unrealistic.

In particular, the NAB expresses its concerns regarding potential interference with FM translators. “FM translators provide a vital radio service to millions of listeners in areas where direct reception of broadcast radio signals is inadequate due to distance or terrain barriers. Translators are also a lifeline for many AM broadcasters, helping them improve the fill service or launch a first night service, ”NAB said. “Given these concerns, it is puzzling that the petition does not even recognize the impact of the LP-250 service on the translation service.”

The NAB, in its most recent comments, also expresses a lack of confidence in how LPFM broadcasters would handle interference complaints if necessary. “A quick glance at the FCC website reveals many instances of LPFM stations broadcasting at much higher power levels than allowed, including one station that was operating at 23 times its allowed power and one that recently received a notice of false tape broadcasts affecting aviation safety near the Orlando International Airport.

The broadcast industry group also argues that LPFM volunteers are often not qualified to handle the technical obligations required by the FCC.

In conclusion, NAB states that the Simple LPFM petition contradicts the intention of the low-power FM service when it was created. Granting the REC proposal would also undermine the localized nature of LPFM service envisioned by the FCC and Congress by allowing some LPFM stations to expand their coverage area by 100% or more and reach hundreds of thousands. more listeners, including in some of the country’s largest markets, ”NAB commented.

Common Frequency and other LPFM advocates subsequently filed comments claiming that some of NAB’s arguments are “unfounded and incorrect”. Here are the documents filed by the FCC regarding the Simple LPFM proposal.

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