FCC to Study Economic Effect of LPFM on Full-Power FM - But Not the Economic Impact of Any Interference that May Be Caused

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As part of the Local Community Radio Act which, among other things, repealed restrictions against protecting full-power FM stations from third-adjacent channel interference from LPFM stations, Congress required that the FCC conduct a study of the economic impact that such stations will have on full-power FM stations. The FCC began the process of conducting that study, asking for public comment on a series of questions designed to look at that impact. Comments are due on June 24, 2011, with reply comments to be filed by July 25. The Commission asks for comments in two general areas, asking what impact LPFM will have on full-power stations' revenues and on their audience share, but tentatively decided that it would not look at any economic impact that interference from LPFM would have on full-power stations.

What led the FCC to this tentative conclusion? The FCC said that the Act did not specifically require any study of the economic impact of interference and, since the principal purpose of the Act was to set out how the FCC should deal with interference remediation, Congress had already addressed all that needed to be considered about any potential interference. This view was bolstered by the inclusion in previous legislation of a specific directive to study interference, which led to the report from the MITRE Corporation. That report concluded that there would be no substantial interference from LPFM to full-power stations, which opened the door to the passage of the Act. Thus, the Commission reached the tentative conclusion that no additional study of the economic impact of LPFM was necessary, but they seek comment on that tentative conclusion. We expect that there will be such comments.

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