Browse Topics



For immediate release
March 30, 2000
Siriol Evans, NPR


Washington, DC - National Public Radio(NPR®) announces its support for HR 3439, the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 2000, which addresses the recent Low Power FM (LPFM) decision of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The bipartisan bill was approved by the House Commerce Committee last week. NPR President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Klose says this legislation takes "a carefully balanced approach" toward the licensing of new LPFM stations.

Under the bill, the FCC may go forward immediately licensing LPFM stations as long as interference protections to existing stations are maintained, including protections to third adjacent channels. At the same time, the legislation requires the FCC to set up an experimental program in nine markets to test whether LPFM will result in harmful interference to existing stations if third adjacent channel protections are eliminated. Among other things, the legislation provides that an independent party will conduct a study of the affect of LPFM without third-adjacent channel protections on digital audio broadcasting and radio reading services for the blind.

NPR has consistently stated that it supports LPFM in concept and believes that public radio and LPFM can be compatible, complementary services. NPR and its member stations believe that the FCC took inadequate steps in adopting its LPFM decision to protect the signals and transmissions of public radio stations and radio reading services. NPR believes that LPFM interference to public radio stations is particularly likely for the following reasons:

1) most public radio stations operate on reserved FM-band spectrum and are more tightly "packed" together than stations on the non-reserved FM-band spectrum, resulting in severe frequency congestion. Thus, there is a much higher likelihood of interference from new stations, even those of low-power;

2) public radio stations send signals that are "lightly processed" to preserve the natural dynamic range of the programming, particularly in the case of jazz and classical music, news/talk, and special programming that is rich in natural, on-location sound recordings. Heavily processed Top 40 stations limit the dynamic range to emphasize loudness. Lightly processed signals are much more vulnerable to interference making them more susceptible to interference;

3) many NPR member stations operate statewide networks configured to achieve maximum signal coverage to the population based on actual receipt of a signal rather than predicted contour overlap;

4) many public radio stations are more vulnerable to interference due to restrictions on power and antennas required to minimize interference to channel 6 television stations.

NPR had hoped to resolve its concerns without legislation. On March 16, 2000, NPR requested that the FCC reconsider and delay implementation of its LPFM decision, pending further testing and the adoption of suitable additional safeguards. However, it appears clear to NPR that the FCC intends to begin implementing its LPFM proceeding, including opening application filing windows, prior to resolving the significant issues NPR has raised in its pending Petition for Reconsideration.

Renowned for its journalistic excellence and standard-setting news, information, and cultural programming, NPR serves a growing audience of 14.6 million Americans each week via 625 public radio stations. NPR Online is available at NPR also distributes programming to listeners in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa via NPR Worldwidesm, to military installations overseas via American Forces Network and throughout Japan via cable.