NPR has weighed in on the Federal Communications Commissions proceeding on whether to let digital Low Power TV stations run FM signals off of the 87.7 frequency, which dovetails with channel 6. The FCC has folded the question into a larger discussion about DTV spectrum use, but NPR calls the FM proposal “misguided” and “premature and potentially irrelevant.”
Bottom line for NPR: the Communications Act does not authorize this sort of adaptation, it isn’t an efficient use of spectrum, and it could interfere with DTV service.
An excerpt from the filing:
“As a threshold matter, the Commission assumes but has never established the public interest benefits provided by LPTV stations generally, let alone LPTV stations operating as analog FM radio stations. Are the latter stations providing an important public service, including to underserved communities, or simply offering more of the same programming found elsewhere among commercial FM stations?36 And, if LPTV FM stations are providing an important public service, is the service so important that it justifies allowing a single LPTV station to utilize 6 MHz of spectrum for that purpose when the same spectrum could accommodate many more FM stations because of the much smaller bandwidth they require?”
Earlier this week we summarized comments making the case for two LPTV FM stations as venues for underserved communities. There are quite a few filings in the proceeding’s docket, which formally closed on January 12. Now it’s up to the FCC to decide.