Christian Community Broadcasters' Plan for the Future of Low Power FM ("CCB Plan")

Discussion - As covered in the above recommendation, ownership transfers can offer solutions to MX problems as well as allow continuing local service when unexpected circumstances require changes in boards or ownership.  To prevent speculation in non-profit licenses, the actual license transfer should be made without compensation to local qualified non-profit organizations.  Of course, the seller should be reimbursed by the purchaser for equipment, real estate, and other property transferred.  In addition, the seller should be compensated for training and other transitional services provided, on a non-profit basis.

(e) Recommendation IV - Allow multiple ownership of up to ten LPFM and/or translator stations within 15 miles of the primary station, with minimum spacing of five miles between any two stations.  Forbid other multiple ownerships outside the local "cluster."

Discussion - CCB does not believe that LPFM licensees should own and operate stations in five or ten states through a national network or alliance.  Allowing multiple stations in a cluster having a radius of 15 miles solves concerns of many LPFM operators, however. LPFM broadcasters desire more power and directional patterns to cover larger areas and solve terrain problems (i.e. reach the back side of a nearby mountain).  Multiple 100 or 10 watt transmitters, strategically located, would reach the intended market with collectively more power and directionality.  CCB recommends that these stations be allowed to jointly program and own the most effective mix of translators, LP100, and LP10 stations.  With transmitters as far as 30 miles apart (15 miles from the center primary station), a substantial area could be covered.

(f) Recommendation V - Allow all proposals in the CCB Plan as Minor Modifications, using a modified Form 318 which would even cover all instances of board / ownership changes discussed. 

Discussion - If CCB's plan is implemented, most changes could be made as Minor Mods, reducing the need for a Major Mod window, thus allowing new windows primarily for new applications.  Existing forms 314, 315, 316, and 303 are not fully tailored for LPFM's unique regulations, thus modifying current LPFM-specific forms would be quite helpful.

(g) Recommendation VI - Limit initial CPs to 18 months with the option to request a single 18 month extension, with cause, via a modified Form 318.

Discussion - For many reasons, LPFM permitees decide not to build, but do not notify the FCC so the frequency is available for future use.  If a permittee does not take the initiative to ask for an extension, the frequency should be made available for use in a future window.

(h) Recommendation VII - Allow new options for LPFM organizations facing fatal or serious encroachment / interference from full-power stations or existing translators including move via minor modifications up to 15 miles, simplified procedures for moving to any available frequency, reduction to LP10 status, priority over translator applications / mod filed since 2002, and moves to 87.9 for stations not near international boundaries or Channel 6 broadcasters.

Discussion - Obviously LPFM stations want primary status, even retroactively.  An organization with investments of time, money, and dedication, desires to survive and thrive.  LPFM organizations are not suicidal; most of the LPFM organizations that "give up" are those facing insurmountable odds.  Even though thousands of Comments have been filed requesting Primary Status, CCB does not believe that this request will be honored.  Low Power TV station obtained Primary or Class A status only after an Act of Congress.  This law has been narrowly interpreted by the FCC.  Since the FCC supports LPFM, creative solutions need to be found to alleviate the encroachment problem,

ENCROACHMENT PROBLEMS - The March 17, 2005 Petition stated that only one LPFM station has been ordered off the air by the FCC because of full-power encroachment.  Though true, this statement gives an incorrect impression of the problems LPFM faces because of interference / encroachment.  Many LPFM applicants and permittees have seen "the handwriting on the wall" and have never used their CPs.  Even though the situation is somewhat different, more that half of all LPFM applications in 2000-01 have been dismissed for technical reasons, primarily short-spaced situations.  Most occurred after Congress changed the law in December; hundreds of applicants could not find a new frequency and others lost their dream when this law created new MX situations.  If nothing else, this shows that the serious demand for LPFM stations is greater than available frequencies.

SITE / FREQUENCY / POWER CHANGES NEEDED - Moving more than 3.5 miles, coupled with frequency changes could save many stations.  CCB recommends 15 miles as the new distance standard for everything from moving transmission sites to defining "local."  This distance is selected because co-channel LP100 stations must be this distance apart.  Procedures for changing to any frequency should be simplified - any tech box change of frequency should be granted as a minor mod.  The only requirement should be that the new frequency meets all FCC technical / interference requirements without proving that it is "better" that the original frequency.  No full-power or translator broadcaster will be hurt if an LPFM determines that requesting LP10 status is necessary.  LP10 stations are promised for "future windows" - the need is now for some LP10 stations to give relief to current broadcasters.

(i) Recommendation VIII - Starting with the 2003 Translator window, classify all new translators as Third Status, subject to pre-emption by all present and future LPFM stations. Permission should not be granted for profit sales of translator permits or stations by non-profit organizations.  Requiring future and pending translators to be owned by the station they translate would result in prohibiting the control of thousands of translators by a few organizations.

Discussion - The FCC would not have frozen the processing of 2003 translator applications if it had not been concerned about a few organizations controlling thousands of translator frequencies.  Other good suggestions have been presented to keep the future development of LPFM from being severely hurt by the actions of a few people.  Regardless of which suggestion is best, all LPFM groups plead for relief from the Great Translator Invasion of 2003.