FCC Microradio Proposal Announcement of Jan. 28, 1999

Federal Communications Commission 
1919 - M Street, N.W.
ashington, D.C. 20554
ews media information 202 / 418-0500 
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830 Internet: 

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of
the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See
MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

Report No. MM 99-1 MASS MEDIA ACTION January 28, 1999


The FCC today proposed to license new 1000 watt and 100 watt low power FM
(LPFM) radio stations, and sought comment on also establishing a third
"microradio" class at power levels from 1-10 watts.

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today, the Commission said its
goals are to provide new opportunities for community-oriented radio
broadcasting, foster opportunities for new radio broadcast ownership and
promote additional diversity in radio voices and program services, while
protecting the integrity of the spectrum. It said that new LPFM stations
could provide a low-cost means of serving urban communities and
neighborhoods, as well as populations living in smaller towns and
communities. It said it had received over 13,000 inquires in the last year
from individuals and groups showing an interest in starting a low power
radio station.

The Commission said it was proposing a number of interference
protection criteria that would help to insure that any new low power
FM radio service would protect existing radio services and preserve
the technical integrity of radio service today which has been fostered and
maintained by existing FCC rules.

It proposed minimum distance separations between LPFM stations as the best
practical means of preventing interference between low power radio and
full power FM stations. It said it would require co-channel (or same
channel) and lst adjacent channel protections, but felt that 3rd adjacent
channel and possibly 2nd adjacent channel protection would not be
necessary in view of the low power levels and other factors. It
specifically asked for comments on any potential adverse effects from LPFM
stations on future digital radio developments, particularly In Band on
Channel systems.

The Commission said the proposed new services could meet a variety of
local needs and capabilities from broad community coverage to smaller
neighborhood areas. It proposed one service with primary frequency usage
status to operate at a maximum effective radiated power and antenna height
of 1000 watts and 60 meters which would produce a service area with a
radius of about 8.8 miles. It proposed another service with secondary use
status to operate at maximums of 100 watts and 30 meters with a service
radius out to 3.5 miles. It also asked for comments on a 1-10 watt
microradio class of stations with an antenna height of 30 meters with a
service radius of one to two miles.

The Commission proposed to require the LP 1000 watt class of stations to
follow most or all of the rules applicable to full-power broadcasters. It
asked for comments on its inclination not to apply most radio station
service rules to new LP100 and 1-10 watt microradio stations in view of
the smaller size of the operations and secondary status of these services.
It stated that it was proposing to not permit any LPFM station to operate
as a translator station retransmitting the programming of a full-power

The Commission asked for comment on whether LPFM stations would need
to generate revenue from advertising or underwriting, and whether the
population in these service areas could sustain an advertising base.
Alternatively, it asked for comment on whether these LPFM stations should
be strictly noncommercial and whether educational institutions are the
best potential LPFM licensees.

Because of the increased opportunity for new entry and diversity from LPFM
stations, the Commission proposed to apply strict ownership restrictions
by not permitting existing broadcasters to own or have any joint sales or
marketing agreements with an LPFM station and by prohibiting anyone from
owning more than one LPFM station in the same community. It asked for
comment on whether a limit of five or ten stations nationally would
provide a reasonable opportunity to attain efficiencies of operation while
preserving the availability of these stations to a wide range of new

The Commission proposed an electronic filing system, with short
windows of only a few days each for the filing of applications, but
asked for comment on whether longer windows or a first-come, first
served procedure would be preferable. It said that mutually exclusive
applications would have to be resolved by auctions. However, it asked for
comments on the best means to fulfill the statutory obligation to explore
other means to avoid mutual exclusivity prior to ordering competitive
bidding for the LPFM station authorizations.

Action by the Commission January 28, 1999, by Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (FCC 99-6). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Powell
and Tristani, with Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth dissenting; Chairman
Kennard and Commissioner Tristani issuing a joint statement, and
Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth and Powell issuing separate

- FCC -

News Media Contact: David Fiske (202) 418-0513 Mass Media Bureau
Contact: Keith Larson (202) 418-2600; Bruce Romano, Paul Gordan (202)

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