FCC Authorizes New LPFM Service

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					FCC Authorizes New LPFM Service

     On January 20, 2000, the FCC adopted rules creating a new, low power FM
      radio (LPFM) service. The Report and Order was released on January 27 and
      was published in the Federal Register on February 15. The rules will become
      effective on April 17, 2000.

     At about that time, in about mid-April, the Commission will issue a Public
      Notice announcing the first 5-day application period 30 days hence.
      Applications from Alaska, California, District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana,
      Louisiana, Maine, Mariana Islands, Maryland, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and
      Utah will be accepted at that time. Four additional filing windows will open in
      approximately three-month intervals. The order in which each state will be
      considered is available from a News Release of March 27, 2000.

     The new LPFM service will consist of two classes of LPFM radio stations with
      maximum power levels of 10 watts and 100 watts. The 10 watt stations would
      reach an area with a radius of between one and two miles, the 100 watt stations
      would reach an area with a radius of approximately three and a half miles. 100-
      watt stations will be authorized first.

     These LPFM stations would operate throughout the FM band. The stations will
      be geographically separated from existing stations on the same (co-channel)
      channel, the next (first adjacent channel) channel, and the channel two channels
      away (second adjacent channel). The new stations will not be geographically
      spaced from stations three channels away (third adjacent channel). For example,
      under the rules applicable to existing full power stations, where there is a station
      at 93.5 mHz,” there is currently no station in the same geographic area on 93.7
      (the first adjacent channel), 93.9 (the second adjacent channel) or 94.1 (the third
      adjacent channel). The spacing criteria for LPFM stations will allow an LPFM
      station to be licensed on the third adjacent channel, or 94.1 in the vicinity of the
      full power station.

     The rules provide for a 20 km "buffer zone" of additional separation from co-
      and first-adjacent channels so that existing FM stations can modify facilities
      without undue adverse impact. They also provide for separation from existing
      vacant FM allotments.

     The new LPFM service will be exclusively noncommercial, there will be no
      commercial LPFM stations. In addition, current broadcast licensees or parties
      with interests in other media – cable or newspapers - will not be eligible for
      LPFM stations.

     LPFM stations will be licensed exclusively to local entities for the first two
      years of license availability. Later, however, non-local entities will be eligible
      for licenses. Each licensee may own only one station in any given community,
      however, eventually a licensee may own up to ten stations nationwide.

     Licensees will be subject to the same character qualifications as are currently
      applied to full power licensees. Unauthorized broadcasters will be disqualified
       unless they certify that they ceased operations when notified of their violation of
       FCC rules or by February 26, 1999.

      If mutually exclusive applications are received for LPFM stations in a given
       city, mutual exclusivity will be resolved through the award of points for
       established local presence, proposed hours of service, or locally originated
       programming. The point system would encourage mutually exclusive applicants
       to share their stations with other applicants.

       Construction Permit for a Low Power FM Broadcast Station is available in
       Acrobat (pdf) format. Form 318 is available online here and through the FCC's
       Forms webpage. Applications will be accepted only in designated filing
       windows. The Commission will announce in a Public Notice when these filing
       windows are opened. Applications filed outside of these windows will not be
       accepted. When information is available on when to file applications for low
       power radio stations it will be posted on the Commission’s LPFM website at or available by phone from the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC.

      Some radio reading services have raised concerns about interference to their
       services from LPFM. Radio reading services, which carry newspapers and other
       information aurally to the visually impaired population, operate as subcarriers on
       FM frequencies. Just as our testing has determined that existing stations will not
       experience harmful interference, the Commission stated in the Report & Order
       that subcarriers on these frequencies should not experience harmful interference.
       The concerns about radio reading services are related more to the
       unsophisticated technology of the receivers than to the signal itself. The
       Commission is looking into technical testing of radio reading service receivers.

The Audio Services Division has created an Internet program to help LPFM applicants
select a site which meets the minimum required separations to other broadcast stations.
The LPFM Channel Finder and other important information is available though the
Audio Service's Division LPFM website.