NAB Continues To Fight Stronger LPFM’s


The National Association of Broadcasters has renewed its objections to the Petition for Rulemaking filed by REC Networks which is asking The FCC to create a new class of 250-watt LPFM service. The NAB says this is a dramatic change to the service and does not protect FM signals.

The NAB comments states that the “Petition does not justify such a dramatic change to LPFM service and fails to sufficiently protect incumbent FM radio services, particularly FM translator stations.”

The NAB also says that allowing LPFM’s to go to 250 watts will allow them to reach more listeners by more than doubling their maximum allowed power. “Granting REC’s request would effectively provide LPFM stations the same coverage as full-service Part 73 FM stations, but with a fraction of the obligations. Given that any LPFM entity is always free to apply for a Class A FM station, which would operate with the same radiated power as REC’s request, NAB respectfully asks the FCC to prohibit such a sidestep of its rules and dismiss the Petition.”

Read the 7-page NAB filing HERE.
Watch our interview with REC Networks Founder Michelle Bradley HERE.


  1. As an operator of an LPFM station, I would say that the number of responsible LPFM operators is about the same as other program originating stations. I am unaware of any LPFM’s that do not fully participate in the EAS system. If the FCC wants us to have a public file sytem, I have absolutely no problem with that.

    I would say that the “Wild West” of translator expansion is far more of an issue. Some of the licensed directional patterns are not possible to implement in the real world with current antenna technology. Many have the wrong antennas or don’t have them properly installed. In our area, I am aware of one using an antenna whose configuration is not what is called for in their license. Another, which is very powerful given its location on a mountain ridge has an antenna that periodically twists to a “new” position on its tower causing some level of interference to others. If the NAB wants to help the FM band, they should be for inspections of translators (and everthing else) to make sure that they are in technical compliance. In some cases the translator license should be revoked or the frequency or power changed if it actually isn’t possible to achieve compliance. This too should apply to all services and once it did. Conversely though most LPFM stations use real non-directional broadcast antennas. We use a two bay half wave spaced Shively antenna wwhich was professionally installed. Are there some stations that use unapproved antennas? Doubtlessly, yes. That doubtlessly applies to many translators and at least some full power stations. That is one of the reasons that we need reasonable FCC enforcement.

    LPFM stations have a 20 mile guard band around them which no other radio service has. If that guard band were eliminated, many LPFM’s could operate at significantly more than 250 Watts without causing interference to other stations. It should also strongly be noted that while going from 100 Watts to 250 Watts indeed is a 2.5 time increase in power it is only affords a relatively small coverage increase as power is a logarithmic function. To double coverage one would have to increase an LPFM’s power from 100 Watts to 1,000 Watts. What 250 Watts will do is extend the 60 dBu, city grade coverage from 3.5 miles to 4.4 miles. This will help with building penetration and will additional increase the lesser coverge bands similarly. The NAB is certainly well aware of all of this but is sounds much more alarmist to mention the 2.5 times power increase.

    The NAB says that we should also move to a reserved band (88.1-91.9) and simply get a 250 Watt (or more) Class A non-com license. Some LPFM’s will certainly be taking that approach during the non-com window this fall provided that they can prevail in competition with very hungry NPR and big religion operators. For most of us though, there are no frequencies available. As to, perhaps, going to commercial frequency, two groups own everthing in our area. Personally, I could probably actually buy one of the smaller commercial channels but they are not available unless you can make a several million dollar offer for six to seven stations plus their farm of translators.

    At 250 Watts, LPFM’s are at a very low power level still especially given their 100 foot (30M) HAAT before a power reduction is required. Our little station operates at 28 Watts at 203 feet HAAT. We would go to about 75 Watts. Our same channel could be used as a “fill in” translator at 250 Watts on the local mountain ridge at about 1,200 feet. I doubt that the NAB would have any issue with a commercial operator using our frequency at that much higher power level. Given that, our station is arguably reducing FM interference by underutilization of the frequency!

    • And, regardless of where one comes down on this particular issue, the FCC still proceeds, last year and this year, with higher fees on radio stations…while not providing the vigorous compliance enforcement that we are paying for. Radio, whether full-power or LPFM, has struggled mightily through a devastating pandemic, but the Commission still insists on squeezing out more fees…for what, exactly?!?!

      The FCC is just completely out of touch…


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