Does this plan call for the forced migration of any FM or AM station to the new spectrum?
No. It is specifically written to prevent that.
The plan calls for FM translators. Can an AM station voluntarily give up their AM facility and move to the new band and just run their station like a translator there?
There are no provisions for primary status commercial FM broadcast stations, except on 87.7 in 13 selected markets where existing FM6 operations are taking place. If an AM station wishes to operate an FM translator on a channel and location designated for FM translator use, they may do so like with any other translator. The Local Community Radio Act does prohibit FM translators from obtaining a primary status. In addition, translators are protected both to and from other stations, which will make primary services not possible in the absence of the LCRA.
What protections are being provided to current FM stations on 88.1~107.9?
FM stations operating at least 100 watts ERP or greater (101 watts or greater for LPFM) will be required to protect the intermediate frequency channels (+ 10.6/10.8 MHz) of existing full-service FM broadcast stations, pursuant to §73.207 for full-service stations and FM translators and proposed rules for LP-250 services in an amendment to §73.807. NCE FM stations on 88.1, 88.3 and 88.5 are provided with protections from secondary stations operating on 87.7 and 87.9. In 13 markets, we provided a recommendation that Channel 199 (87.7) be made available as a commercial allotment as a replacement to the established FM6 stations operating under special temporary authority if the FCC wishes to retain these commercial services. Those stations, operating under the LPTV rules are currently operating on adjacent channels to NCE stations on 88.1 and 88.3 and the record shows that there has been no complaints of interference. We recommend to grandfather in those second and third adjacent channel short spacings. We note that some allotments will have higher ERPs assigned to them. In those cases, the second and third adjacent will still be waived and since the 87.7 allotments will put in a higher field strength, it reduces the overlap area that is prone to any "potential interference". We note a couple of the 87.7 allotments would receive a reduction in ERP. This is because the analog portion of their LPTV facility is operating in excess of the maximum power allowed for a Class B FM station. We recognize that this will decrease the field strength of the potentially interfering (FM6) station. It is REC's position that with modern receiver design, any real interference from a second or third adjacent channel station is extremely minimal to none.
Can a LPFM or full-service NCE station do a transition to the new band and operate simultaneously on the current and new band for a period of time (similar to how the transition to expanded AM was done)?
Our plan only calls for such voluntary migrations to take place for LPFM stations due to the service's multiple ownership rules. Full-service NCE stations may apply in a filing window with a divestiture statement in order to maintain diversity. Further, we are asking the FCC to limit licensees in the new band to be limited to established local applicants for a considerable amount of time (at least through the first series of filing windows) before this spectrum would be made available for any national ownership interests. Outside of a filing window, we propose to allow NCE and LPFM stations to change channels into the extended band per existing minor change policies that allow changes to "any channel" in the band under certain circumstances (such as reduced interference for LPFM stations), but again, this would be a flash cut to the new band and not a transitional period resulting in duplicating programming.
If a commercial FM6 LPTV licensee is allowed to use 87.7 as a radio station, what rules, filing fees and regulatory fees would apply?
Under our recommendation, these stations would be expected to follow the FM broadcast rules and not the LPTV rules. Some stations would need waivers in order to maintain their operations such as waivers on the types of directional antennas they can use as well as waivers of the second and third adjacent channel protection rules.