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                      THE CGC COMMUNICATOR

                            CGC #306

                   Thursday,  January 28, 1999

                 Robert F. Gonsett, W6VR, Editor

     Copyright 1999, Communications General Corporation (CGC)

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  FCC FAVORS THE CREATION OF A LOW POWER FM SERVICE

  At this morning's open Commission meeting, the FCC
gave the green light to move toward the creation of a low
power FM (LPFM) broadcasting service with power levels up
to 1,000 watts.  The Commissioners made clear, however, that
existing broadcast signals must be protected and that nothing
would be done to jeopardize the introduction of in-band
on-channel (IBOC) digital transmission technology.  The FCC's
next step will be to accept public comments on the LPFM issue
before voting on the adoption of formal rules.

  In this morning's testimony, Roy Stewart, Chief of
the Mass Media Bureau, stated that perhaps hundreds (but not
thousands) of new LPFM stations could be created.  He also
mentioned that the drop-in possibilities would be more favorable
in rural areas.  (Imagine the disappointment if the LPFM crowd
discovers that Los Angeles and San Diego will not be LP hotbeds -
that the real prospects lie in Desert Center and Borrego Hot
Springs.)  On top of all this, the U.S./Mexican FM Agreement has
its own restrictions for LPFM stations here in the southland.

  The big news is that the FCC is talking about eliminating
the third adjacent channel mileage protections.  They may also
tinker with second adjacent channel protections.  What this means
in practical terms is that the ramifications could extend far
beyond the LPFM service.  If the basic mileage protection table
is watered down, watch for more full power FM stations and many
more FM translators.  Tinkering with the Table will create a
host of rippling effects.

  To learn more about LPFM, listen to the recording of this
morning's open Commission meeting at:

  http://www.fcc.gov/realaudio/ 

  ....and tune in to the following time segments:

  1:03:50 to 1:24:15  -  Staff presentation of LPFM,
  and comments from the Commissioners, and

  1:50 to 2:24  -  Press conference, questions & answers.

  The sessions were fascinating - real history in the making.

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  A SECOND OPINION

  CGC is pleased to present Michael Brown's synopsis of this
morning's LPFM proceeding.  Mike is with Brown Broadcast Services
of Portland, OR and is a leading contributor to the SBE newsletter
in that area.

  By Michael Brown  <mbbm@teleport.com>

  The FCC adopted a NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) this
morning for Low Power FM.  A 60 day comment period now ensues,
with a 30 day reply period.  If adopted, the FCC anticipates that
they may start accepting applications for the service later this
year.  All of their proposals are subject to change, or course,
after the comments are evaluated.

  Here are the major points:

  * FM service only - no AM or other band.

  * Commercial or non-commercial operation - Seeking comments
  whether it should be strictly non-commercial.

  * Ownership would be open only to those who currently do not
  own a broadcast station.

  * Limit one to a market per owner - seeking comments on
  national ownership limits.

  * Seeks comments on prohibition of LPFM ownership to current
  owners of other media, such as newspaper or cable.

  * Establishment of a 2 tier service:  1,000 watt (LP1000),
  and 100 watt (LP100) service.  [A 1-10 watt service was also
  discussed, see below.  - Ed.]

  * LPFM would be primary service (not supersedable by other
  full power services) -  (Comment: No mention on whether LPFM
  could bump existing translators, but as a primary service -
  presumably it could.)  [1-10 watt LPFM stations, if permitted,
  would tentatively be secondary services.  -Ed.]

  * LP1000 would have a protected (1mv/m) contour of about
  9 miles.

  * LP100 would have a protected contour of about 3.5 miles.

  * Allocation would be done on a site separation basis, just
  like current full-power FM stations.

  * Seeking comments on establishing a secondary micro-power
  service with 1-10 watts.

  * Proposing elimination of 3rd adjacent separation requirements.

  * Seeking comments on relaxation or elimination of 2nd
  adjacent separation requirements - seeking comments about
  2nd adjacent problems with proposed IBOC digital radio.

  * Electronic Filing would be mandatory.

  * Commission may lend technical assistance to filers.

  * Probably would use short filing windows.

  * Likely will use auctions to decide mutually exclusive
  applicants.

  * Pirate radio operators who defied shut down orders from
  the FCC would be barred from owning an LPFM.  Those who heeded
  an initial shut down order might still be eligible.

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