IS THIS THE END OF THE FRANKEN LPTV STATIONS?
FCC NPRM FOR LPFM STATIONS HAS KEY QUESTIONS RELATED TO 26 PROFITABLE LPTV STATIONS WHICH AIR AUDIO ON 87.7 FM




"We tentatively conclude that we should, upon the July 13, 2021, required completion of the LPTV digital transition, eliminate the distance separation requirement between LPFM stations and all television stations operating on TV6."  FCC NPRM pg 6




FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
47 CFR Parts 73 and 74
[MB Docket Nos. 19-193 and 17-105; FCC 19-74]
Low Power FM Radio Service Technical Rules

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) seeks comment on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to improve technical rules that primarily affect Low Power FM (LPFM) radio stations, based upon a petition for rulemaking filed by REC Networks.

DATES: Comments may be filed on or before October 21, 2019 and reply comments may be filed on or before November 4, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by MB Docket Nos. 19-193 and 17-105

Protecting TV Channel 6 Television Stations

4) The Commission proposes to establish a July 13, 2021, sunset date for the requirement that LPFM stations operating on the FM reserved band (channels 201 to 220) protect television stations operating on adjacent television channel 6 (TV6). Because the precise TV6 protections issue also affects noncommercial FM (NCE), FM translator, and Class D radio stations on the reserved band, the Commission also proposes to eliminate the TV6 protection requirements for those stations. The proposed July 13, 2021, sunset date corresponds to the date by which all TV6 stations will have transitioned from analog to digital operations. The sunset date would be included in sections 73.525 (NCE-FM and Class D stations), 73.825 (LPFM stations), and 74.1205 (FM translators).

5) Since 1985, the Commission has required stations proposing operations on FM reserved band channels 201 through 220 to protect full service television, Low Power Television (LPTV), Class A, and television translator stations operating on TV6. The TV6 spectrum is located at 82 to 88 MHz, immediately adjacent to the FM band. Full power TV6 stations, however, transitioned to digital operations in 2009 and the Commission expects that most of the remaining LPTV stations on TV6 will transition by July 13, 2021. The Commission believes that the transition to digital and the use of digital receivers with improved selectivity reduces the need for radio stations to provide protection to TV6 stations.

6) Given these circumstances, the Commission proposes a July 13, 2021, sunset date for distance separation requirements between all reserved band radio stations and TV6 stations. In the intervening time between the effective date of final rules and July 13, 2021, the Commission proposes to implement a waiver process. Radio stations proposing facilities that do not meet TV6 spacing requirements could request a waiver by submitting exhibits demonstrating that their proposals would not cause interference to the TV6 station. The Commission would review these requests on a case-by-case basis.

7) The Commission invites comment on its proposal and on the tentative conclusion that TV6 spacing requirements can be eliminated upon completion of the television transition to digital without any resulting interference to TV6 station. The Commission also asks whether there are any better alternatives. The NPRM further notes that approximately 26 LPTV stations currently supplement their analog TV6 signals with audio programming on 87.7 FM and asks whether the proposed elimination of TV6 protection by LPFM and other radio stations would be compatible with LPTV audio operations on 87.7 MHz if such operations were allowed to continue.


COALITION COMMENTARY
Back in 2014, when the rules of the 2017 incentive auction were being finalized, our Coalition did a lot of lobbying in support of extending the analog transmission sunset date.  At first it was in support of the 20 or so LPTV stations at that time which were broadcasting on FM 87.7.  But the ask for an extension soon turned into an industry-wide campaign to extend all 2009 filing window CP's until the end of the auction and repack.  This was to avoid the dreaded "double build", which would have forced over 2000 LPTV to build before the auction, get displaced, and then have to build again.  In their infinite wisdom, the FCC decided to extend the analog sunset date, and extend all LPTV CP's until the repack was over, a little less than 2 years from now.  So, if you have a surviving CP, and or got to build out recently, well you owe a debt of gratitude to the channel 6 owners which paid for the research and lobbying they paid us to do, which ended up helping 1000s. 

We do however think that the FCC should extend the 87.7 FM option to all of the 6's, even the digital ones.  Remember, it is all about "highest and best use", and 87.7 FM is available in all markets, can be heard by most car radio's, and should be used as much as possible.  And do that with a digital TV feed also.  


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"The Report & Order (R&O) preserves the three-hour-per-week mandate for E/I programming, but allows a third of that to be aired on a multicast channel, rather than on the primary channel, as the rules had required.

The R&O, among other things, also gives broadcasters an extra hour (from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. to 6 a.m.-10 p.m.) in which E/I programming satisfies the three-hours-per-week requirement and gives broadcasters the ability to count a "limited" amount of non-regularly scheduled weekly programming toward the requirement, though still requiring the "majority" of that programming to be regularly scheduled weekly, and allow a "limited" amount of short-form programming--PSAs, interstitials--but most still required to be at least a half hour."



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