LPFM Report and Order

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This was the original Report and Order that created the LPFM service with two classes of service, LP-100 and LP-10 to operate as a noncommercial educational (NCE) service by entities that do not have any attributable interests in any other broadcast stations and in a manner that protects the existing FM service. Initially, only local applicants would be eligible to participate in the service and once the eligibility criteria is relaxed, local organizations will be given significant selection preference. The LPFM service will provide new voices to be heard and fulfill the FCC's statutory obligation the authorize facilities in a manner that best serves the public interest.

Original LPFM Report and Order
Document Information
TypeReport and Order
Docket Number(s)MM 99-25
Related RM(s)RM-9208, RM-9242
FCC Number00-19
FCC Record15 FCC Rcd 2205
Relevant Dates
Adoption DateJanuary 20, 2000
Release DateJanuary 27, 2000
Commissioner Statements
ApproveKennard, Tristani, Ness,
DissentPowell, Furchtgott-Roth

Commission's goals in creating LPFM

The FCC's goal in creating LPFM was to create a class of radio stations to serve very localized communities or underrepresented groups within communities. Another goal was that any new LPFM service would specifically include the voices of community based schools, churches and civic organizations. Finally, the Commission made it clear that they would not compromise the integrity of the FM service. Engineering testing was performed by the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology and studies submitted by commenters were comprehensively reviewed.

Classes of Service


In comments, the creation of a primary LP-1000 service created the most controversy. The topic was one of the few areas that generated opposition by both current full-power broadcasters and low power radio proponents. The FCC decided to not authorize the LP-1000 service. Those who opposed LP-1000 stated that they would pose a greater interference concern and would have a preclusive effect on the licensing of new LP-100 and LP-10 stations.


LP-100 created the most positive comments. Commenters felt that LP-100 stations would create a reasonable coverage area while remaining small enough to respond to local needs. The service would allow for the use of equipment such as transmitters and single bay antennas which are readily available. Those in opposition stated that LP-100 was undesirable because it be difficult to establish a procedural and enforcement framework that would protect FM broadcasters from interference and that LP-100 stations would only create a marginal new radio listenership given the overriding levels of interference they would receive from full-service stations.

The FCC did authorize the LP-100 service with maximum facilities with the equivalent of 100 watts effective radiated power (ERP) and 30 meters (98 feet) height above average terrain (HAAT) and minimum facilities of 50 watts ERP at 30 meters HAAT. This would create a maximum service contour of 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles).


Those who commented on LP-10 felt that the service would be suitable for school campuses and local community organizations that wish to serve small areas and did not have the resources to construct a higher powered facility. Commenters felt that LP-10 would work better in crowded urban areas where higher class stations could not fit. Those who opposed it stated that the FCC would not be able to enforce the rules against the LP-10 stations and the widespread interference it would cause. Additionally the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) discussed that the original Class D radio service was eliminated because the stations were inefficient spectrum usage.

The FCC did authorize the LP-10 service with facilities between 1 and 10 watts ERP and antenna heights up to 30 meters HAAT. LP-10 stations would produce a service contour between 1.6 and 3.2 kilometers (1 to 2 miles). These stations would fit in some locations where LP-100 was not available.

Nature of service and licensees

Noncommercial Educational service

Comments received overwhelmingly favored a noncommercial educational (NCE) service saying that NCE would be the best way to serve local communities. Others had argued that LPFM stations should be available for commercial licensees.

The FCC established the service only as noncommercial citing their goals to establish a new service to create new opportunities for new voices on the airwaves and to allow local groups including schools, churches and other community-based organizations to provide programming responsive to the local community needs and interests. Commercial stations, by their nature have commercial incentives to maximize audience size in order to improve ratings and increase advertising revenues. Such incentives could frustrate the FCC's goals in creating the service. Creating LPFM as an NCE service also gave the FCC additional flexibility in assigning licenses as mutually exclusive applications would not be resolved through competitive bidding, All LPFM applicants must meet the NCE eligibility requirements as outlined in Section 397(6) of the Communications Act. This means that applicants must demonstrate that the station would advance the organization's educational objective. With the NCE requirement for LPFM, stations could not be licensed to individuals, partnerships or for-profit entities.

Public Safety and transportation

Based on comments received by the New York State Thruway Authority and the Texas Department of Transportation, the FCC created a carve out to permit LPFM stations to be used by public safety and transportation agencies. These agencies felt that LPFM would be a service more reliable than AM Travelers Information Stations.

Eligibility and ownership

Cross ownership

Several commenters, including NAB stated that there should be no restrictions on LPFM stations being owned by existing broadcasters, NAB stated that a prohibition on cross-ownership would preclude LPFM stations from realizing efficiencies through joint operation with a full-power counterpart. Most commenters, however, opposed cross-ownership. Public interest groups asked why companies that already hold broadcast licenses be able to hold LPFM licenses when 99.9 of the American people are barred from the most effective communications media in the nation.

The FCC did prohibit cross-ownership of LPFM with any other broadcast station including translators and low power TV stations as well as other media subject to the ownership rules, such as local newspapers and cable TV providers. The FCC also prohibited operating agreements in any form, including time brokerage agreements, local marketing and management agreements and similar arrangements between full-power and LPFM broadcasters as well as between LPFM broadcasters. Applicants that already have an attributable interest can pledge to divest that interest in connection to receiving an LPFM license.

Localism requirement

Most commenters favored requirements that LPFM licensees be locally based arguing that local residents are more likely aware of the issues of importance to the local community and to gear their programming accordingly. Some commenters claimed that a local ownership requirement was incompatible with a 5 to 10 station ownership cap and could be struck down under the standards set by Bechtel v. FCC (10 F.3d 875).

While the FCC felt that a local ownership requirement would be preclusive, the service is intended to respond to highly local interests that are not necessarily being met by full-power stations. Since LPFM will be NCE, they can't rely on on commercial market forces and business incentives to assure that local needs are fulfilled. The FCC concluded that the disadvantages of a local ownership requirement are outweighed by the benefits to be gained by maximizing the likelihood that LPFM stations will be well grounded in the communities they serve.

For the first two years of the LPFM service, all LPFM applicants must be based within 10 miles of the station they seek to operate. This means that the applicant must have a headquarters, a local chapter, branch or campus or has 75 percent of its board members residing with 10 miles of the transmitting antenna. 10 miles was chosen to be proportionate to most stations' likely effective reach.

Organizations providing public safety radio service will be considered community-based in the area for which it has jurisdiction.

National ownership

Comments received were very wide ranging including some groups that wanted a nationwide one-station-per-owner limit arguing that such a cap would result in the most diverse ownership Various civil rights organizations supported nationwide ownership Several commenters agreed with the 5 to 10 station cap that the FCC proposed. NAB stated that it did not believe a national ownership cap would be permitted under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The FCC will use a staged process where in the first two years, only one station per local owner. If no local organizations want stations, after the two year period, the FCC would allow organizations to own up to 5 stations and after 3 years, up to 10 stations. The FCC dismissed NAB's claims since the ownership rules in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 does not apply to NCE stations.

Local ownership limits

Many commenters agreed strongly that LPFM ownership should be limited to one station per community and that multiple ownership in a local area would reduce the number and diminish the diversity of new entrants. NAB opposed these limits stating that common ownership leads to increase efficiencies.

The FCC found that most of the opposition to the limits were related to commercial ownership of LP-1000 stations. The primary benefit of local multiple ownership, increased efficiency is less compelling with respect to LP-10 and LP-100 NCE stations.

The FCC will require that no entity may not have an attributable interest in two or more LPFM stations located within 7 miles of each other. This would apply to both LP-10 and LP-100 stations.

Attributable interests

The comments on this subject varied widely as some were concerned that if the existing attribution rules were applied to LPFM stations, some entities with large national organizations and small chapters would not be able to hold multiple licenses even though they maintain a local presence and will air local programming. Others stated that attribution rules should be waived for educational institutions so they can hold both a full-power license and a LPFM station.

The FCC will attribute the interests of the applicants, its parents, its subsidiaries, their officers and members of their governing boards. If an entity that holds an LPFM station does have stock, then the existing attribution rules will apply and a voting stock interest of 5 percent or more would be attributable unless the investor is passive in nature, in which case voting stock interests of 20 percent or more would be attributable.

An exception was made for certain officers and directors of the parent of an LPFM applicant or licensee who may hold attributable interest in a broadcast license or other media subject to the ownership rules provided that the duties and responsibility of the officer or director are wholly unrelated to the LPFM station and the officer or director recuses themselves of any matters related to the LPFM station. Another exception is for local chapters of national or other large organizations if the local chapter can demonstrate that it is separately incorporated and has a distinct local presence, it can apply for a license in its own right.

Unlicensed broadcasters

On this issue, various civil rights groups argued for "amnesty" for unlicensed broadcasters. Others stated that if it wasn't for the pirates, LPFM would have not been created. NAB believes that because pirate broadcasters operated illegally, they should not be given any amnesty.

The FCC will apply the same character qualifications for LPFM as they do for full power licensees. For pirate operation, the FCC will accept an applicant who certifies that they voluntarily ceased operating an illegal station no later than February 26, 1999 without any specific direction by the FCC to terminate operations or that they did terminate operations within 24 hours of being notified by the FCC.

Technical rules

Spectrum for LPFM

The FCC decided to authorize low power radio only on the FM band. For AM, the FCC cited the congestion and interference on the band. In addition low power AM stations were capable of significantly higher levels of interference as a result of propagation characteristics.

For FM, the FCC has concluded that no specific frequency can be assigned for LPFM as all of the channels are used nationwide. Channels 201~220 (88.1~91.9) are already available for full-power NCE stations and they would also be available for LPFM stations. Stations would also be allowed in the commercial band Channels 221~300 (92.1~107.9).

LPFM stations would be able to obtain broadcast auxiliary services such as studio to transmitter links, but such operation would be secondary to use by full-service broadcast stations.

Spectrum rights and responsibilities

On the issue of secondary vs. primary service, comments were divided. Several commenters wanted primary service to help ensure LPFM's survival. Broadcasters and consulting engineers felt that LPFM should be secondary on the same level as FM translators.

The FCC made the LPFM service secondary and also provide protection to FM translator and booster stations. LPFM stations will also be required to protect vacant FM allotments. With that in mind, the FCC wanted to minimize the situations in which an LPFM station would be required to change channels or cease operating. LPFM stations will be required to protect full-service and translator stations using distance separation. In addition, LPFM stations in the reserved band (88.1~91.9) would also have to protect full-service and low power Channel 6 TV stations.

LPFM stations would not be required to eliminate interference caused to FM stations by their lawful operation. FM stations will also be required to address complaints of blanketing interference and will be subject to international agreements and must eliminate interference to primary Canadian or Mexican broadcast stations.

In the rules, the FCC will include two distances in respect to co-channel and first-adjacent stations. The first distance is the required minimum separation distance that includes the interfering contour of the LPFM station, a 20 km "buffer zone" (towards full-service stations only) and the protected service contour of the incumbent station. The second distance will be the minimum distance where the LPFM station would likely not receive interference from the incumbent station. This consists of the interfering contour of the incumbent station plus the service contour of the LPFM station (no buffer zone).

If a full-service station modifies their facility, the LPFM station may have to cease operations if the LPFM station causes interference in the full-service station's 70 dBu contour.

Minimum distance separation requirements

Distance separation vs. contours

The FCC determined that distance separation, as opposed to using the contour overlap model used by FM translators would be used for LPFM stations. Recognizing that distance separation would preclude new LPFM stations in some areas, they were not persuaded that the potential benefit of some additional stations is substantial enough to warrant the preparation of more complex and costly engineering exhibits based on contours and the resulting delays in the authorization of the LPFM service.

Establishment of distance separation tables

The FCC established distance separation tables for protections to full-service FM, Class D FM stations and other LPFM stations. A separate set of tables were established for protecting stations in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands due to the differences in the definition of service classes in those areas. A separate set of tables were established for LPFM stations in the reserved band to protect Channel 6 TV stations.

Another set of tables were established to protect FM translator stations. The translator tables were set up in three tiers. The lower tier is for FM translators with a service contour of 7.3 kilometers or less, this value is consistent with the service contour size of non fill-in FM translators located east of the Mississippi as well as in California south of 40 degrees north latitude. The middle tier is for FM translators with a service contour greater than 7.3 kilometers, but less than or equal to 13.3 kilometers, which is consistent with non-fill in translators located in other parts of the country. The upper tier is for FM translators with a service contour that exceeds 13.3 kilometers.

The FCC provided additional protections for about 20 grandfathered "super power" FM stations operating in the reserved band. These stations, which were originally authorized before 1962 operate at a power and height combination that exceeds those of their current service class.

Separate tables will be established for the protection of FM facilities in Canada and Mexico. No tables were established for the protection of FM stations in the British Virgin Islands by LPFM stations in the United States Virgin Islands, but the FCC does advise that additional international coordination may be required.

The 20 km "buffer zone"

In respect to full-service stations, the FCC included a 20 kilometer "buffer" to the distance separation requirements for co-channel and first-adjacent channels. The FCC established this buffer zone was intended to give full-service FM stations some room to move their facilities without impacting the LPFM station and it also affords the LPFM station an increased likelihood that its operation will not cause interference within a full-service station's community of license. The buffer zone applies only to the initial establishment of the LPFM station and subsequent moves by the LPFM station would either have to meet this distance or if already short-spaced, does not increase the short-spacing (e.g. moving the LPFM station closer to the full service station).

Second and third adjacent channel protections

When LPFM was originally proposed, the FCC stated that stations would be required to protect other stations on co-channel (same frequency) and first-adjacent channels (+/- 200 kHz). The FCC was inclined to authorize the service without any second-adjacent channel (+/- 400 kHz) or third-adjacent channel (+/- 600 kHz) standards. The FCC stated that a strong case could be made for not requiring third-adjacent channel protections as there would be little risk of interference to existing radio services as the interference would be very small and only occur in the immediate vicinity of the LPFM station or if the LPFM station was located at the outer edge of the full-service station's protected contour where the full-power station's signal would be the weakest. The FCC noted that third-adjacent channel protection was eliminated for certain grandfathered and short-spaced full-power stations in 1997. On balance, the FCC stated that creating opportunities for a new LPFM station should outweigh any small risks of interference to and from LP-1000 and LP-100 stations.

For second adjacent channel stations, the FCC notes that grandfathered short-spaced FM facilities were permitted to modify their facilities without regard to second or third-adjacent channels from 1964 to 1987 and then from 1997 to the present and that no interference complaints were received as a result of those modifications and they found that the small risk of interference was outweighed by improved service.

Technical studies

Technical studies were filed in response to the NPRM by the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) under the auspices of National Public Radio, CEMA and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the NAB; and a third study conducted by Broadcast Signal Lab, LLP for the National Lawyers' Guild, Committee on Democratic Communications (NLG). In addition, the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) completed a study on FM receivers.

CEMA Study

The CEMA Study tested 16 consumer receivers including 5 automobile radios, 5 home hi-fi tuners or receivers, 3 portable stereo systems, 2 portable radios and one "walkman" style radio. Receivers were tested under a number of conditions including co-channel, first, second and third-adjacent channel interference. CEMA's determination was that proposals to eliminate second and third adjacent channels could result in significant interference to current and future FM stations and threaten the deployment of future digital audio services and therefore recommends that the second and third adjacent channel (and intermediate frequency) protections be maintained.

NAB Study

The NAB Study tested 28 FM radios including 8 automobile, 5 component, 5 portable and 5 clock radios. In their study, they had found that "15 to 22" of the 28 receivers would experience interference on third-adjacent channels and "22 to 23" of the 28 receivers would experience interference on second-adjacent channels. They concluded that the FCC receivers generally do not perform up to FCC interference standards and that the FCC's assumptions that these restrictions could be eliminated for FM stations are incorrect.

NLG Study

The NLG study examined a sample of 10 radios including 3 higher prices radios (generally above $150), 5 lower priced radios and 2 factory installed car radios. NLG observed that the car radios and higher priced radios performed far better than one would predict on the FCC interference ratios and that substantial signal strengths were required to cause second, third and forth-adjacent channel interference. The lower priced radios tended to "straddle" the FCC interference protection ratios. The NLG study found that more aggressive modulation of the undesired signal did not cause a significant increase in interference, especially on second, third and fourth adjacent channels and that less costly radios were more susceptible to modulation induced interference than more costly radios. All radios tested for co-channel and first-adjacent channel interference matched or exceeded the FCC interference protection ratios. Higher priced radios tend to withstand second-adjacent channel interference between than lower priced radios. Higher priced radios and car radios withstood undesired signal levels higher than the FCC interference protection standards. The poorest performing radios were susceptible to second-adjacent channel undesired signal ratios at levels lower than the levels that affected the best performers. Third adjacent channel interference was slightly less challenging to most radios than second-adjacent channel interference. Higher priced radios and car radios tended to fare better than the lower prices radios.

OET Study

The FCC's OET conducted a study with 21 radios including 5 small moderate cost portable and "boom box" receivers, 7 automobile receivers and 9 moderately expensive home stereo type receivers. No inexpensive receivers without an antenna input were used. OET found that nearly all of the receivers in the sample appear to meet or exceed the current second-adjacent channel protection ratios and exceeds the third-adjacent channel protection by a wide margin.

FCC conclusions

The FCC determined that the test data concludes that any risk of interference from LPFM stations of 100 watts is small and, on balance, is outweighed by the benefits of the new service. They concluded it was not necessary to apply third-adjacent channel protections as it would not result in significant new interference to existing FM stations nor does it believe such operations will have an adverse effect on digital IBOC signals. The FCC found that the risk from second-adjacent channel interference was "somewhat higher" and therefore they would retain the second-adjacent channel protection requirements.

Other technical standards and provisions

Power and height

The FCC determined that if an LPFM station operates from a height above average terrain that is higher than 30 meters, their assigned effective radiated power would be reduced in order to produce a service contour that is appropriate for the LPFM service class.

Directional antennas

Citing the facts that facilities using directional antennas are subject to strict installation and pattern requirements, the impact on staff resources for processing these applications and due to the fact that LPFM uses distance separation as opposed to contours, the FCC did not authorize directional antennas for the LPFM service.

Transmission standards

The FCC did inquire whether LPFM stations should have a different transmission standard such as reduced bandwidth. The FCC would determine that LPFM would use the same transmission standards as full-service FM stations. LPFM stations may engage in monophonic or stereophonic broadcasting and may use subcarriers when the FM signal is on the air.

Antenna polarization

LPFM stations were permitted to operate horizontally polarized, vertically polarized, circularly polarized or elliptically polarized antennas. Normally in the full-service (with some exceptions for NCE stations near a Channel 6 TV station), antennas must include a minimum of a horizontal element to them. This flexibility will make it easier for LPFM stations to select an antenna for their station.

Protection of AM radio radiation patterns

Antenna structure construction within 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) of a directional AM station or 0.8 kilometers (0.5 miles) of a nondirectional AM station will subject LPFM stations to the AM protection requirements to assure that the constructed tower structure does not adversely affect the AM signal pattern through reflections produced by the new structure.

Antenna Structure Registration

Antenna structures that are in excess of 61 meters above ground level and those along designated glide slopes in respect to nearby airports are subject to Antenna Structure Registration requirements.

Blanketing interference

For the first year after the commencement of transmissions with new or modified facilities LPFM stations will be responsible for handling blanketing interference complaints. For LP-100 stations, this is approximately 125 meters from the transmitter site and for LP-10 stations, about 39 meters.

Transmitter certification

The FCC will require transmitters in the LPFM service to be type certified. Type certification would prevent the use of transmitters with excessive bandwidth or modulation, spurious emissions, excessive power output or insufficient frequency stability, which could cause interference to other existing stations.

Unattended operation

The FCC anticipates that many LPFM stations will be operated unattended (no duty operator at the transmitter or studio site during all hours of operation). LPFM stations operating unattended will be required to advise the FCC by simple letter of the unattended operation and to provide an address and telephone number where a responsible party could be reached at such times. The responsible party must be able to turn off the transmitter within 3 hours of receiving notice from the FCC that the equipment is not functioning properly.

Station logs

Requirement for station logs will be minimal for LPFM stations. LPFM station logs will contain only the following entries:

  1. Daily observation of proper function of tower obstruction lighting (if required by rules);
  2. Dates and a brief explanation regarding station outages due to equipment malfunctioning, servicing or replacement;
  3. Any operation not in accordance with the station license;
  4. Receipt of the weekly Emergency Alert System test;
  5. Name of person making the entry.

Environmental requirements

To protect occupied areas from radio frequency radiation, the FCC has specific standards. There are additional standards for other environmental issues including but not limited to construction at sites with historical significance. The FCC will create a simplified process to assist LPFM applicants with this.

Radio astronomy installation notifications

Like with all other radio services, LPFM stations will be required to notify and coordinate their operations and provide protections to the radio quiet zones in West Virginia and Colorado. LPFM applicants in Puerto Rico will need to coordinate their operations with the Arecibo Observatory.

Application processing

Electronic filing

On the topic of electronic filing, while most commenters supported electronic filing, some had said that there should be a permissive ability to file paper applications due to issues such as a "significant race gap" in internet access and for those without computer proficiency skills, or otherwise having access to the internet.

While electronic filing was available, it was not mandatory for the first filing windows. Applicants could still file their applications on paper. They will determine what will happen for the second filing window when LP-10 stations become available.

The FCC also announced that there will be a website available where prospective applicants can make a preliminary determination of what frequencies will be available at a particular location.

Filing windows

In the NPRM, the FCC discussed whether the filing process for new stations should be "first come first served" or through a filing window process where applications will be taken for a short period of time. Many commenters supported the use of the filing window. Those who supported first come stated that the benefit is that would avoid situations with mutually exclusive applications but other stated that first come will give an unfair advantage to applicants with superior financial and technical resources.

The FCC adopted a filing window process. Filing windows will be announced 30 days in advance and the window will be open for 5 days.

Following a filing window, minor change applications will be permitted. Minor change applications can propose to move an LP-100 station up to 2 kilometers or an LP-10 station up to 1 kilometers. Minor change applications can specify a change to a first, second, or third adjacent channel or an intermediate frequency channel. Upon a technical showing of reduced interference, an applicant can change to any channel in order to resolve the interference.

Mutual exclusivity

The FCC requested comments about handling mutually exclusive applications and how they would be settled. Three possible methods were mentioned: (1) comparative hearings, (2) a lottery process weighed in favor of certain applicants based on statutory requirements and other factors or (3) a system assigning points to applicants based on various selection criteria.

Based on consideration of the record, the FCC would adopt a point system for resolving mutual exclusivity. The point system would include three selection criteria:

  1. Established community presence - The applicant was local in the community continuously in the community for a minimum of two years. Local is defined as either the organization's headquarters, campus or chapter, or 75 percent of the organizations board members residing within 10 miles (16.1 kilometers) of the transmitting antenna.
  2. Proposed operating hours - The applicant pledges to operate the station at least 12 hours per day.
  3. Local program origination - The applicant pledges to originate locally at least eight hours per day of local programming. Local origination is considered the production of programming within 10 miles of the transmitting antenna.

To enforce the operating hours and local origination points, the FCC may perform random audits on stations to verify the accuracy of the certifications and will consider written complaints regard the station's actual performance.

In the event of a tie, applicants can propose a voluntary time sharing agreement with the ability to aggregate points. If a tie cannot be resolved, the 8 year license would be divided into successive non-renewable terms. If there are more than 8 tied applicants in a group, all but the 8 applicants with the oldest local community establishment dates will be dismissed.

For voluntary time sharing agreements, applicants will have 30 days from the public notice announcing the tie to submit amendments proposing a voluntary time share proposal. Each time share proponent must propose to operate at least 10 hours per week.

License terms and renewals

The FCC asked for comments to whether LPFM licenses should be renewable. Most parties agreed that they should be and suggested various license terms from 1 to 7 years. Only a small number of commenters supported non-renewable licenses.

The FCC decided that LPFM licenses should be on the same synchronized schedule that applies to other broadcast stations. This means that licenses would be first granted for a short term until the synchronized expiration date is met and then licenses are renewed for 8 year terms.

The exception will be non-renewable licenses that were as a result of the last resort tie breaker situation. In those cases, the expiration dates of the licenses will be handled independently of the synchronized system.


In the NPRM, the FCC stated that there should be no restrictions on transferring an LPFM license to another organizations. A majority of commenters supported a ban on transfers or severely restricting them. Many were concerned that it would create it would create a secondary market of LPFM licenses with no guarantee that the assignee would have the same localism and diversity in mind.

After review of the comments, the FCC decided to prohibit the transfer of LPFM construction permits and licenses.in order to ensure the spectrum will be used for low power operations as soon as possible without the delay associated with license speculation.

Programming and service rules

Public interest requirements

Comments received were mixed between those that felt that certain public interest requirements were burdensome. The Low Power Radio Coalition believes that LPFM stations should be held to high standards similar to full-power stations. NAB argues that LPFM stations should follow the same rules as full-service stations.

The FCC determined that certain obligations would be unnecessary for LPFM stations. The eligibility and selection criteria will help ensure that LPFM licensees will meet the needs and interests of their communities. LPFM stations will not be required to provide programming responsive to community issues or to maintain a list of issues addressed for specific programs aired. This means no public file requirements.

LPFM stations would still be subject to rules regarding obscene and indecent programming, sponsorship identification, political programming, recorded programming, personal attacks and periodic call sign announcements.

Locally originated programming

The FCC inquired whether there should be a local programming requirement on LPFM. Many commenters favored a local programming requirement while some opposed specific requirements. Amherst Alliance argued that the best way to prevent LPFM stations from being "corporate satellites" is through limits on LPFM license eligibility. Commenters generally agreed that LPFM stations should not be used as translators for retransmitting full-power programming.

The FCC's position that programming need not be locally originated to be responsive to local needs. Therefore, the FCC will not impose any specific requirements for local programming. They believe the nature of the service, combined with the eligibility criteria and preferences that are being adopted, this will insure that LPFM licensees provide local originated programming or programming that is otherwise responsive to local needs.

The FCC did impose a restriction that LPFM stations could not be used for retransmitting, either terrestrially or via satellite, the programming of full-power stations.

Political programming

The FCC has determined that Section 312(a)(7) of the Communications Act requires broadcasters to provide legally qualified candidates for federal office reasonable access to their facilities and Section 315(a) which requires equal opportunities for candidates also applies to LPFM stations. As noncommercial stations, LPFM stations may not allow political candidates to purchase time, including paid political advertising/underwriting acknowledgements. Like all other NCE stations, LPFM stations cannot endorse or oppose candidates for public office. LPFM stations will be required to keep a political file to record any requests made or otherwise given to use the LPFM facilities.

Station identification

LPFM stations will use the same call sign system as Low Power TV stations, a four letter call sign with the suffix "-LP". Like with LPTV stations, call signs cannot duplicate other service call signs without consent from the other station.

Operating hours

To ensure an effective utilization of channels, the current standards for full-service NCE stations will be used. Stations will be required to operate at least 36 hours per week and at least 5 hours a day, 6 days a week. Stations licensed to educational institutions are not required to operate on Saturday or Sunday (or during school vacation periods).

Other broadcast administrative rules

Comments received on this issue were mixed where existing broadcasters held the position that LPFM stations should follow the broadcast rules regarding main studios, public files and ownership reports where others stated that such rules would be a burden on LPFM stations.

To prevent an undue burden being placed on LPFM stations, the FCC decided not to require LPFM stations to follow the main studio rule; however, those stations that pledged to operate a main studio for at least 20 hours per week and who had their applications decided through the point system are expected to meet the pledge. LPFM stations would not be required to maintain a public inspection file nor required to file ownership reports. These rule exemptions are consistent with those that apply for Low Power TV stations.

Construction permits

In the NPRM, the FCC proposed an 18-month construction period for LP-100 stations and a 12-month period for LP-10 stations. Most commenters stated these intervals were reasonable and others advocated for shorter periods to prevent spectrum hoarding.

The FCC decided on an 18-month construction period for both LP-10 and LP-100 stations.

Emergency Alert System

On EAS, some commenters argued that compliance should not be required for LP-10 and LP-100 stations because small operations and coverage areas make compliance unnecessary and too expensive. Others commented that LPFM stations should only be required to have EAS decoders because they will only broadcast to listeners and not to other EAS participants. NAB argued that EAS should be required because listeners will be unaware of emergency warnings that they have come to expect from radio stations.

The FCC decided that LPFM stations would be required at LPFM stations, but they would only be required to install decoders and are not required to have encode capability. This would be consistent with the relaxed rules for Low Power TV and Class D FM radio stations.

Commissioner statements

In support of the Report and Order, Chairman William Kennard stated that the possibility of opening up available spectrum in the FM band has sparked creativity and that there is more room for these and other uses, but rather than being able to use available spectrum to test their ideas in the marketplace, these groups have been shut out, prohibited from serving their communities. The most serious objection to LPFM was that it would cause interference to existing radio stations. Chairman Kennard has pledged all along that he would not support any proposal that threatens the integrity of existing radio services. In a separate statement, Commissioner Susan Ness states that the FCC has enabled students, community organizations, churches and those underrepresented in conventional broadcasting to provide programming of special interest to community and niche populations. She was also impressed that the adopted rules would not cause interference to other stations including new IBOC radio systems.

In dissent, Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth cannot support the elimination of the third-adjacent channel protection requirements and calling the FCC's overall plan a "rush to judgment". He focuses on the fewer stations that would be established in urban areas because the second-adjacent channel restrictions were not lifted also. He felt that the existing rules, which allows for stations with a minimum of 100 watts was the better way to go. "In short, the Commission has, at the expense of existing service quality, created a handful of new stations in primarily non-urban areas; stations that may not meet their licensing requirements if they air religious programming; stations that may well be unlistenable by fixed listeners due to interference received from higher power stations; a threat to the development of digital radio servies; a heavy regulatory scheme, including cross-ownership, political programming rules and EEO outreach duties, to govern these very small operators; and more enforcement and administration burdens for the Commission."

Commissioner Michael Powell, dissenting in part, stated that while he supports the Commission's overall objectives, there are the threats of signal interference and erosion of economic viability. On the latter issue, he is concerned that LPFM stations will be a threat to small market broadcasters to their overall economic viability by potentially siphoning financial support away from small market stations and dilute audience share. He would have taken a slow approach to introduce LPFM including some experimental operations to assess the real world impact of signal interference, which could have resulted in LPFM being introduced with third adjacent channel protections and would introduce fewer stations to gauge the actual economic impacts to existing stations.

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