[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 109 (Wednesday, June 6, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 26229-26237]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-11964]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 74

[MB Docket No. 18-119; FCC 18-60]


FM Translator Interference

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission discusses several proposals 
designed to streamline the rules relating to interference caused by FM 
translators and expedite the translator complaint resolution process, 
based in part upon the petitions for rulemaking filed by the National 
Association of Broadcasters and Aztec Capital Partners, Inc.

DATES: Comments may be filed on or before July 6, 2018 and reply 
comments may be filed on or before August 6, 2018. Written comments on 
the Paperwork Reduction Act proposed information collection 
requirements must be submitted by the public, Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB), and other interested parties on or before August 6, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by MB Docket No. 18-119, 
by any of the following methods:
     Federal Communications Commission's Website: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, 
by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail (although the Commission continues to experience 
delays in receiving U.S. Postal Service mail). All filings must be 
addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, 
Federal Communications Commission.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: [email protected] or phone: (202) 418-
0530 or TTY: (202) 418-0432. For detailed instructions for submitting 
comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Albert Shuldiner, Chief, Media Bureau, 
Audio Division, (202) 418-2721; Christine Goepp, Media Bureau, Audio 
Division, (202) 418-7834. Direct press inquiries to Janice Wise at 
(202) 418-8165. For additional information concerning the Paperwork 
Reduction Act (PRA) information collection

[[Page 26230]]

requirements contained in this document, contact Cathy Williams at 202-
418-2918, or via the internet at [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Notice 
of Proposed Rulemaking, MB Docket No. 18-119, FCC 18-60, adopted and 
released May 10, 2018. The full text of this document is available 
electronically via the FCC's Electronic Document Management System 
(EDOCS) website at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/ or via the 
FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) website at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. (Documents will be available electronically 
in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat.) This document is also 
available for public inspection and copying during regular business 
hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, which is located in Room 
CY-A257 at FCC Headquarters, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554. 
The Reference Information Center is open to the public Monday through 
Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 
a.m. The complete text may be purchased from the Commission's copy 
contractor, 445 12th Street SW, Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554. 
Alternative formats are available for people with disabilities 
(Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), by sending an 
email to [email protected] or calling the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 
(TTY).

Initial Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis

    The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) contains proposed 
information collection requirements subject to the PRA, Public Law 104-
13. OMB, the general public, and other Federal agencies are invited to 
comment on the proposed new and modified information collection 
requirements contained in this NPRM.
    Comments on the proposed information collection requirements should 
address: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is 
necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the 
Commission, including whether the information shall have practical 
utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimates; (c) 
ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information 
collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information on the respondents, including the use of automated 
collection techniques or other forms of information technology. 
Pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 
107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), the FCC seeks specific comment on 
how it might ``further reduce the information collection burden for 
small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.''
    In addition to filing comments with the Secretary, a copy of any 
Paperwork Reduction Act comments on the information collection 
requirements contained herein should be submitted to Cathy Williams, 
via the internet to [email protected], and to Nicholas A. Fraser, 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB), via the internet to 
[email protected].
    To view a copy of this information collection request (ICR) 
submitted to OMB: (1) Go to the web page http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain, (2) look for the section of the web page called ``Currently 
Under Review,'' (3) click on the downward-pointing arrow in the 
``Select Agency'' box below the ``Currently Under Review'' heading, (4) 
select ``Federal Communications Commission'' from the list of agencies 
presented in the ``Select Agency'' box, (5) click the ``Submit'' button 
to the right of the ``Select Agency'' box, (6) when the list of FCC 
ICRs currently under review appears, look for the Title of this ICR and 
then click on the ICR Reference Number. A copy of the FCC submission to 
OMB will be displayed.
    The proposed information collections are as follows:
    OMB Control Number: 3060-xxxx.
    Title: Sections 74.1203(a)(3), Interference, and 74.1204(f), 
Protection of FM broadcast, FM Translator and LP100 stations.
    Type of Review: New collection.
    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities; Not-for-profit 
institutions; State, Local or Tribal Government.
    Number of Respondents and Responses: 270 respondents; 270 
responses.
    Estimated Time per Response: 3-5 hours.
    Frequency of Response: Third party disclosure requirement and on 
occasion reporting requirement.
    Total Annual Burden: 1,080 hours.
    Total Annual Cost: $924,100.
    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The 
statutory authority for this collection of information is contained in 
sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 301, 303, 307, 308, 309, 316, and 319 of the 
Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 301, 303, 307, 308, 
309, 316, and 319.
    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for 
confidentiality with this collection of information.
    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).
    Needs and Uses: On May 10, 2018, the Commission adopted a Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, Amendment of Part 74 of the Commission's Rules 
Regarding FM Translator Interference, FCC 18-60, MB Docket No. 18-119, 
proposing to streamline the rules relating to interference caused by FM 
translators and expedite the translator interference complaint 
resolution process. The proposals, if implemented, could limit or avoid 
protracted and contentious interference resolution disputes, provide 
translator licensees both additional flexibility to remediate 
interference and additional investment certainty, and allow expedited 
resolution of interference claims by affected stations.
    The rule changes proposed in the NPRM would, if adopted, 
potentially increase the number of listener complaints that must be 
included with an interference claim to a minimum of six, and increase 
the amount of information to be included with each listener complaint 
to include signed listener statements regarding listening regularity 
and non-affiliation with the complaining station. In the NPRM, the 
Commission is seeking comment on its proposal to specify and clarify 
the information that must be contained in each listener interference 
complaint, thus potentially reducing lengthy and resource-intensive 
disputes over a listener's bona fides. To discourage the filing of 
poorly substantiated claims, the Commission is proposing to require 
that a minimum number of listener complaints be submitted with each 
translator interference claim and that listener complaints beyond a 
certain contour would not be actionable. Finally, the Commission is 
seeking comment on streamlining the interference resolution process by 
applying technical data, rather than relying on listener involvement, 
to demonstrate resolution of properly documented, bona fide listener 
complaints. Under this new information collection, the following 
information collection requirements require OMB approval.
    The Commission proposes to amend Sec. Sec.  74.1203(a)(3) (actual 
interference) and 74.1204(f) (predicted interference) of the rules to 
state that interference will be considered to occur whenever reception 
of a regularly used signal by six or more listeners, at separate 
locations using separate receivers, is impaired or is predicted to be 
impaired,

[[Page 26231]]

by the signals radiated by the FM translator station.
    The Commission also proposes to codify the Sec.  74.1203(a)(3) and 
74.1204(f) listener complaint requirements in Sec.  74.1201(k). All 
listener complaints, whether submitted under Sec.  74.1203(a)(3) or 
Sec.  74.1204(f), must be signed by the listener and contain the 
following: (1) Full name and contact information; (2) a clear, concise, 
and accurate description of the location where the interference is 
alleged to occur; (3) to demonstrate that the complainant is a regular 
listener, a statement that the complainant listens to the desired 
station at least twice a month; and (4) to demonstrate that the 
complainant is disinterested, a statement that the complainant has no 
legal, financial, or familial affiliation with the desired station. In 
addition, stations submitting a translator interference claim pursuant 
to either Sec.  74.1203(a)(3) or Sec.  74.1204(f) must include a map 
plotting specific listener addresses in relation to the relevant 
station contours. Section 74.1204(f) complaints must also provide 
technical evidence of interference to the reception of the desired 
station at the listener locations specified, such as through U/D signal 
strength data.
    Finally, in order to simplify and expedite the interference 
resolution process, the NPRM proposes to require that the FM translator 
operator, once interference has been initially established through bona 
fide listener complaints under either Sec.  74.1203(a)(3) or Sec.  
74.1204(f), submit a technical showing that all interference has been 
eliminated. The NPRM proposes to require that this technical showing be 
based on the same U/D ratio methodology applicable to Sec.  74.1204(f) 
complaints described above, in addition to on/off tests, if 
appropriate, and as directed by Commission staff.
    OMB Control Number: 3060-0405.
    Title: Application for Authority to Construct or Make Changes in an 
FM Translator or FM Booster Station, FCC Form 349.
    Form Number: FCC Form 349.
    Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection.
    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities; State, Local or 
Tribal Government; Not-for-profit institutions.
    Number of Respondents and Responses: 1,350 respondents; 2,700 
responses.
    Estimated Time per Response: 1-1.5 hours.
    Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement; Third 
party disclosure requirement.
    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The 
statutory authority for this information collection is contained in 
sections 154(i), 303 and 308 of the Communications Act of 1934, as 
amended.
    Total Annual Burden: 5,050 hours.
    Total Annual Cost: $5,291,550.
    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).
    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for 
confidentiality with this information collection.
    Needs and Uses: FCC Form 349 is used to apply for authority to 
construct a new FM translator or FM booster broadcast station, or to 
make changes in the existing facilities of such stations.
    Form 349 also contains a third-party disclosure requirement, 
pursuant to 47 CFR 73.3580. This rule requires stations applying for a 
new broadcast station, or to make major changes to an existing station, 
to give local public notice of this filing in a newspaper of general 
circulation in the community in which the station is located. This 
local public notice must be completed within 30 days of the tendering 
of the application. This notice must be published at least twice a week 
for two consecutive weeks in a three-week period. In addition, a copy 
of this notice must be placed in the station's public inspection file 
along with the application, pursuant to 47 CFR 73.3527. This 
recordkeeping information collection requirement is contained in OMB 
Control No. 3060-0214, which covers Sec.  73.3527.
    On May 10, 2018, the Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, Amendment of Part 74 of the Commission's Rules Regarding FM 
Translator Interference, FCC 18-60, MB Docket No. 18-119, proposing to 
streamline the rules relating to interference caused by FM translators, 
and expedite the translator interference complaint resolution process. 
The proposals, if implemented, could limit or avoid protracted and 
contentious interference resolution disputes, provide translator 
licensees both additional flexibility to remediate interference and 
additional investment certainty, and allow earlier and expedited 
resolution of interference complaints by affected stations.
    In the NPRM, the Commission seeks comment on its proposal to offer 
additional flexibility to translator licensees, by allowing them to 
resolve interference issues using the effective and low-cost method of 
submitting a minor modification application to change frequency to any 
available FM channel. This method could potentially reduce the need for 
pleadings to be filed at a later stage to prosecute or defend an 
interference claim.
    Specifically, the NPRM pertains to this Information Collection as 
it proposes to modify Sec.  74.1233(a)(1) of the rules to define an FM 
translator station's change to any available FM channel as a minor 
change, filed using FCC Form 349, upon a showing of actual interference 
to or from any other broadcast station. Currently, if an existing FM 
translator causes actual interference as prohibited by Sec.  
74.1203(a), it is limited to remedial channel changes, filing FCC Form 
349 as a minor change application, to first, second, or third adjacent, 
or IF channels. A change to any other channel is considered a major 
change on FCC Form 349, which currently may only be submitted during a 
filing window. The NPRM, if adopted, will enable more translator 
stations to cure interference by simply changing channels by filing 
Form 349 as a minor change application, rather than other costlier and 
less efficient remedies.
    With this submission, the Commission is currently seeking to obtain 
OMB approval for the proposed revision to Sec.  74.1233(a)(1) of the 
rules. This revision will modify the number of respondents, number of 
responses, annual burden hours, and annual costs for this collection.

Synopsis of Notice of Proposed Rule Making

Introduction

    1. In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the Commission 
proposes to streamline the rules relating to interference caused by FM 
translators and expedite the translator complaint resolution process, 
based in part upon the petitions for rulemaking filed by the National 
Association of Broadcasters (NAB) (NAB Petition) and Aztec Capital 
Partners, Inc. (Aztec) (Aztec Petition). Specifically, the Commission 
seeks comment on: (1) Allowing FM translators to resolve interference 
issues by changing channels to any available frequency using a minor 
modification application; (2) requiring a minimum number of listener 
complaints to be submitted with any FM translator interference claim; 
(3) standardizing the information that must be included within such a 
listener complaint; (4) streamlining and expediting interference 
complaint resolution procedures; (5) establishing an outer contour 
limit for the affected station beyond which listener complaints would 
not be considered actionable; and (6) modifying the scope of 
interference complaints permitted to be filed by affected stations at 
the application stage. The Commission's proposals also apply

[[Page 26232]]

to booster stations, although we note that, as booster stations are 
limited in operation to the same channel as their primary station, the 
proposal to allow non-adjacent frequency changes by minor change 
application will not be available to booster stations. These proposals 
could, if implemented, limit or avoid protracted and contentious 
interference resolution disputes, provide translator licensees both 
additional flexibility to remediate interference and additional 
investment certainty, and allow earlier and expedited resolution of 
interference complaints by affected stations.
    2. Recent substantial growth in the translator service, as well as 
the economic importance of translators for AM station viability, has 
led to increased industry interest in clarifying and streamlining the 
translator interference rules to create greater investment certainty 
and avoid protracted and expensive interference resolution disputes. As 
a secondary service, FM translators must not cause either predicted or 
actual interference to any authorized broadcast station. If 
interference is demonstrated, the translator must resolve the issue or 
cease operation. The Commission distinguishes between predicted 
interference, which is determined at the time a construction permit 
application is processed, and actual interference, which is determined 
after a translator station has begun operation. Under 47 CFR 
74.1203(a), a translator is prohibited from causing actual interference 
to the direct reception by the public of the off-the-air signals of any 
authorized broadcast station at any time after the translator commences 
operation. Although listeners are permitted to submit interference 
complaints directly to the Commission, it is much more common for the 
affected station to submit a claim of actual interference to the 
Commission based on complaints obtained from its listeners. Under 47 
CFR 74.1204(f), an application will not be granted if an objector 
provides convincing evidence that the predicted 60 dB[micro] contour of 
the translator would overlap a populated area already receiving a 
regularly used, off-the-air signal of any authorized co-channel, first, 
second or third adjacent channel broadcast station and grant of the 
authorization will result in interference to the reception of such 
signal.
    3. Channel changes. If the Commission receives a valid interference 
complaint, the translator licensee must either eliminate the 
interference using ``suitable techniques'' or suspend operations. 
Changing channels is often the preferred solution, because it allows 
translators to quickly resolve interference at minimal cost and with 
little or any reduction in service area. However, this option is 
currently limited by 47 CFR 74.1233(a)(1), which restricts translator 
modifications that can be carried out using a minor change application 
to: (1) Channel changes to first, second, or third adjacent channels, 
or intermediate frequency channels; and (2) changes in antenna location 
where the translator station would continue to provide 60 dB[micro] 
service to some portion of its previously authorized 60 dB[micro] 
service area. Changes that do not qualify as minor may only be 
submitted during a filing window. In the NPRM, the Commission proposes 
to define an FM translator's change to any same-band available FM 
channel as a minor change upon a showing of interference to or from any 
other broadcast station. It anticipates that this measure would 
facilitate interference resolution, avoid time- and resource-consuming 
conflicts, and, in some cases, prevent translator stations from being 
forced to suspend operations. The Commission seeks comment on this 
proposal, and on whether to impose any minimum technical requirements 
on such showings, e.g., an engineering statement.
    4. The Commission also seeks comment on limiting this flexibility 
to modification applications seeking channels within the same FM band 
(i.e., the reserved or non-reserved FM bands). Specifically, it 
proposes to modify Sec.  74.1233(a)(1) to define any channel change for 
a translator from a non-reserved band frequency to a reserved band 
frequency, or vice versa, as a major change. Currently, this 
prohibition is limited to unbuilt stations. With the increased channel 
change activity that it anticipates will be generated by this proposal, 
as well as the overall growth of the FM translator service, the 
Commission believes that this measure is necessary to preserve the 
integrity of the filing window system.
    5. Minimum number of listener complaints. The existing interference 
resolution process consists of Commission staff mediating interference 
disputes based upon as little as one listener complaint of 
interference. In the NPRM, the Commission proposes to require a minimum 
number of listener complaints to be submitted in support of any claim 
of translator interference. NAB suggests six listener complaints as a 
``reasonable starting point,'' based on consultation with various 
industry stakeholders. This measure, NAB claims, would help avoid 
disputes over whether a claim supported by only one or two listeners 
has been adequately substantiated. A number of commenters suggested a 
higher required minimum number of listener complaints, such as ten, or 
a variable system based on the size of the market or population 
affected. The Commission seeks comment on whether six complaints is a 
reasonable threshold of listener complaints, noting that six listener 
complaints are required in the context of a digital FM signal causing 
interference to an analog station. Should the Commission vary this 
figure based on the population of the area affected, the total 
population served by the complaining station, or any other potential 
denominator, or would a single number work in most situations? Would it 
be administratively feasible to vary the figure in this way? Should the 
Commission apply this minimum complaint requirement in both predicted 
and actual interference contexts? If so, should the same minimum number 
apply to each rule section? The Commission proposes to apply this 
requirement to both translators and boosters and seeks comment on this 
proposal. Are there reasons to distinguish between translator and 
booster stations in this context? Is there a need to establish a 
maximum time period within which the required number of complaints must 
be obtained by the affected station and/or received by the Commission? 
Although most interference claims are submitted by the affected 
station, the Commission also seeks comment on appropriate procedures 
for handling complaints received directly from listeners. Should the 
Commission forward such complaints to the affected station licensee?
    6. The Commission tentatively concludes that six represents a 
reasonable minimum of listener complaints that will address the concern 
that interference complaints may be inadequately substantiated without 
imposing too heavy an evidentiary burden on the complaining station. 
Therefore, the Commission proposes to amend Sec. Sec.  74.1204(f) and 
74.1203(a)(3) to state that interference will be considered to occur 
whenever reception of a regularly used signal by six or more listeners, 
at separate locations using separate receivers, is impaired or is 
predicted to be impaired by the signals radiated by the FM translator 
station. The Commission seeks comment on this proposal. Although the 
Commission proposes a minimum number of listener complaints, it 
tentatively concludes that it will not adopt NAB's proposal that

[[Page 26233]]

the Commission require a showing of interference at a sufficient number 
of locations within the affected area to demonstrate ``a real and 
consistent interference problem.'' This proposal would have the 
Commission overlook or undervalue multiple listener complaints from the 
same approximate location, such as an apartment building, and is thus 
in tension with the Commission's focus on ``reception by the public'' 
in Sec.  74.1203(a)(3) and prevention of interference to ``populated 
areas'' in Sec.  74.1204(f). The Commission seeks comment on this 
conclusion.
    7. Complaint requirements and remediation procedures. In the NPRM, 
the Commission observes that the interference resolution process is 
often delayed or sidetracked by disputes over the validity of the 
claimed interference, the objectivity of complaining listeners, or 
procrastination by one of the parties. Addressing these matters can be 
time-consuming for Commission staff and detrimental to one or both 
parties. Moreover, seemingly similar cases can vary in the time, 
effort, and expense needed to resolve them, leading to a perception of 
an ad hoc process with inconsistent outcomes. Although the Commission 
requires that listener complainants regularly listen to the affected 
station and be disinterested in the affected station, it currently does 
not require upfront listener certifications to this effect. Rather, 
listener bona fides are contested after the interference claim is 
submitted to the Commission.
    8. The Commission seeks comment on mandating that all listener 
complaints, whether submitted under 47 CFR 74.1203(a)(3) or 74.1204(f), 
must be signed by the listener and contain the following: (1) Full name 
and contact information; (2) a clear, concise, and accurate description 
of the location where the interference is alleged to occur; (3) to 
demonstrate that the complainant is a regular listener, a statement 
that the complainant listens to the desired station at least twice a 
month; and (4) to demonstrate that the complainant is disinterested, a 
statement that the complainant has no legal, financial, or familial 
affiliation with the desired station. In addition, stations submitting 
a translator interference claim pursuant to either 47 CFR 74.1203(a)(3) 
or 74.1204(f) must include a map plotting specific listener addresses 
in relation to the relevant station contours. This proposal would not 
affect the existing 47 CFR 74.1204(f) requirement to provide technical 
evidence of interference to the reception of the desired station at the 
listener locations specified, such as through U/D signal strength data.
    9. The Commission seeks comment on whether these strengthened 
upfront listener complaint requirements would significantly reduce 
challenges to a listener's bona fides and hence simplify and streamline 
translator interference proceedings. The Commission also proposes to 
clarify that listener complaints solicited by the station and/or 
presented in a standardized format, such as a list or form letter, will 
not be taken as evidence that a listener is impermissibly affiliated 
with the complaining station. Similarly, it proposes to clarify that 
social media connections, such as friending or following a station or 
its personnel on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms, 
between listeners and the complaining station or its personnel will not 
be taken as evidence that a listener is impermissibly affiliated with 
the complaining station, because such a connection does not amount to a 
legal, economic, or familial interest in the station. The Commission 
seeks comment on these proposals.
    10. The Commission also proposes that a listener complaint that 
meets the above content requirements will presumptively establish 
interference at the relevant location, which must then be promptly 
eliminated by the translator operator using any suitable technique--
including, as appropriate, a modification application to change 
channels as proposed herein--or, if necessary, suspending operations. 
The Commission anticipates that the more formal and detailed complaint 
format proposed herein will reduce the need for staff involvement in 
disputes over the validity of complaints. Moreover, the Commission 
believes that the U/D signal ratio test procedure outlined below will 
minimize the need for staff involvement in the interference resolution 
process beyond: (1) Confirming the sufficiency of listener complaints 
submitted formally to the Commission; (2) notifying the relevant 
translator of such complaints and any applicable deadline for 
resolution; and (3) reviewing any technical showings purporting to 
establish that all interference has been resolved. The Commission also 
proposes to clarify that a listener whose complaint is sent to a 
station and then submitted as part of an interference claim or other 
request for relief filed by an affected station licensee is not 
entitled to protection under the ex parte rules because the listener 
has not submitted a filing with the Commission. Therefore, listener 
complainants are not parties to any proceeding that may be initiated by 
a complaint or other request for relief filed by a station licensee and 
are not entitled to protection under the ex parte rules. However, as 
before, a station licensee filing an interference claim or other 
request for relief is considered a party to the proceeding and entitled 
to protection under the ex parte rules. The Commission seeks comment on 
these proposals.
    11. The Commission proposes to eliminate the current requirement 
that the complaining listener cooperate with remediation efforts. For 
example, a listener would not be required to accept equipment or 
equipment modifications (e.g., a new receiver) as a way of addressing 
interference. Instead, the Commission seeks comment on removing the 
listener from the complaint resolution process by requiring the 
translator operator, once interference has been initially established 
through listener complaints, to submit a technical showing that all 
interference has been eliminated. The Commission proposes to require 
this technical showing to be based on the same U/D ratio methodology 
applicable to 47 CFR 74.1204(f) complaints, using the standard contour 
prediction methodology specified in 47 CFR 73.313, in addition to on/
off tests if appropriate and directed by Commission staff. A translator 
licensee could use these U/D showings to demonstrate the parameters 
with which it could operate on its current frequency and not cause 
interference. The Commission seeks comment on this proposal to simplify 
and expedite interference resolution. Will the U/D showings, in 
conjunction with the standard contour prediction methodology, be 
sufficient to make these determinations accurately in the majority of 
interference scenarios? The Commission notes that a number of 
commenters questioned the reliability of listeners' assessment of 
interference. Should the Commission rely exclusively on technical U/D 
showings as proposed, or continue to involve the listener if the 
listener alleges that he or she subjectively continues to experience 
interference despite U/D showings to the contrary? If on/off tests are 
included as part of the remediation process, what technical standards 
or procedures, if any, should be required regarding location, timing, 
receivers, etc.? Should the Commission require the use of specific 
receivers, or types of receivers, to promote consistent on/off test 
results? Would this proposal reduce or eliminate unproductive or 
unpleasant interactions between translator operators and complaining 
listeners? Finally, the Commission seeks comment on

[[Page 26234]]

establishing an appropriate deadline for translators to resolve all 
properly substantiated interference complaints and submit an acceptable 
technical showing or be subject to suspension of operation. In addition 
to imposing a deadline on translators to resolve interference, are 
there other measures the Commission could take to expedite the 
interference resolution process? The Commission seeks comment on NAB's 
suggestion that it establish Commission deadlines for acting on 
interference complaints. Is this necessary should the Commission adopt 
deadlines on translators to resolve complaints? How should the 
Commission balance this work against its other competing priorities 
affecting radio broadcasters?
    12. Limit on actual interference complaints. The Commission seeks 
comment on identifying a signal strength beyond which an FM station may 
not claim interference to its listeners from an FM translator. This 
proposal addresses a concern raised by Aztec and other commenters that 
the current rules encourage competitor licensees to file minimally 
substantiated claims against distant translators.
    13. The Commission expresses reservations about two aspects of 
Aztec's proposal. First, the Commission believes that Aztec's proposal 
to prohibit translator interference only within the 60 dB[micro] 
contour of other stations would be inconsistent with translators' role 
as a secondary service, fundamentally changing the existing balance of 
equities between translators and other broadcast stations and affect 
the listening options for listeners outside the other broadcast 
station's protected contour. Second, the Commission tentatively 
concludes that it would not be advisable or administratively feasible 
to distinguish between fill-in and other area translators in this 
context, because it is a relatively simple matter for a translator 
licensee to change primary stations and hence change the fill-in status 
and protection obligations of the translator station. The Commission 
declines to assume that a fill-in translator presumptively provides 
``local'' service or, conversely, that a complaining station is 
``distant'' based merely on the distance between its transmitter site 
and certain of its listeners, particularly commuters. These terms may 
refer as much to programming content as to the proximity of the 
transmitter site. While the Commission's translator policy is intended 
to promote overall program diversity, it does not otherwise assess the 
value of content--again, taking into consideration the ease with which 
programming can be changed. For these reasons, the Commission does not 
seek comment on Aztec's suggestion to differentiate between fill-in and 
other area translators for interference protection purposes. However, 
the Commission seeks comment on possible alternative ways to address 
Aztec's underlying concerns.
    14. The Commission proposes to identify a predicted signal contour 
within which most of a station's listeners are located and to not 
require the elimination of interference beyond that contour. The 
Commission believes that it can thus restrict stations from making 
specious interference allegations while preserving translators' status 
as a secondary service. This approach is similar to that used in the 
LPFM service and is based on the common language of Sec. Sec.  
74.1203(a)(3) and 74.1204(f), which prohibit interference to a 
``regularly used'' broadcast signal, and Sec.  74.1203(a)(3), which 
prohibits interference with another station's ``reception by the 
public.'' These provisions assume the existence of a signal capable of 
being regularly received by the public and therefore should not permit 
complaints regarding a signal that is not so received. Thus, the 
Commission concludes that this proposal is consistent with the 
secondary nature of translators. In this respect, it notes that the 60 
dB[micro] contour standard is by no means an outer limit of 
listenability. Rather, this contour has been principally used as an 
allocations tool, which reflects a balance between providing adequate 
service areas and permitting a sufficient number of FM assignments.
    15. For these reasons, the Commission proposes to modify 47 CFR 
74.1203(a)(3) to state that no complaint of actual interference will be 
considered actionable if the alleged interference occurs outside the 
desired station's 54 dB[micro] contour. Would this contour limit 
achieve the goal of safeguarding the technical integrity of the FM 
band? Should there be different outer limits for interference 
complaints for FM stations in different Zones? The Commission 
tentatively concludes that the greater contour protections afforded to 
Class B and Class B1 in the non-reserved band are based on allocations 
concerns regarding populous service areas and thus do not affect this 
analysis or warrant separate treatment for Class B and Class B1 
stations in this respect. The Commission seeks comment on this 
conclusion.
    16. Observing that the actual interference provisions of 47 CFR 
74.1203(a)(3) and 74.1203(b) have given rise to some of the most 
lengthy and contentious proceedings--as well as to allegations of 
negative interactions between translator operators and complaining 
listeners--the Commission proposes to reduce reliance on actual 
interference complaints by harmonizing the scope of complaints that can 
be preemptively brought under 47 CFR 74.1204(f) with those that are 
based on allegations of actual interference. Specifically, it seeks 
comment on amending 47 CFR 74.1204(f) to allow an objector to submit 
evidence of bona fide listeners that are within the complaining 
station's predicted 54 dB[micro] contour rather than, as currently, the 
relevant translator's ``predicted 1 mV/v (60 dB[micro]) contour.'' By 
modifying the scope of predicted interference claims to more closely 
reflect post-grant actual interference requirements, the Commission 
anticipates that more potential conflicts can be resolved before 
applicants are fully invested in the proposed facility and may have 
greater flexibility in pursuing remedial steps. The Commission seeks 
comment on whether this proposal would encourage translator applicants 
and their engineers to propose facilities that are more viable in the 
long term. It tentatively concludes that the proposal is consistent 
with section 5(3) of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 (LCRA), 
which states that the Commission must, when licensing new FM translator 
stations, ensure that they remain secondary to existing and modified 
full service FM stations. The proposal to modify the existing 
limitation in Sec.  74.1204(f) will expand the geographic scope of 
potential interference complaints against translators by full service 
stations in most cases. In addition, as discussed above, this proposal 
is consistent with the secondary nature of translators. The Commission 
seeks comment on this conclusion.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    17. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) concerning the possible significant 
economic impact on small entities of the policies and rules proposed in 
the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Written public comments are 
requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the 
IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments provided on the 
first page of the NPRM. The Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, 
including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small 
Business Administration (SBA). In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or

[[Page 26235]]

summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.
Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rule Changes
    18. In this NPRM, the Commission seeks comment on whether to modify 
certain standards and procedures relating to FM translator interference 
complaints. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on the following 
proposals: (1) Allowing translators to resolve interference issues by 
changing channels to any available FM frequency using a minor 
modification application; (2) requiring a minimum number of listener 
complaints to be submitted with any FM translator interference claim; 
(3) clarifying the information that must be included within a listener 
complaint; (4) establishing an outer contour limit for the affected 
station beyond which listener complaints would not be actionable; (5) 
modifying the scope of interference complaints permitted to be filed by 
affected stations at the application stage; and (6) streamlining and 
expediting interference complaint resolution procedure. These proposals 
could, if implemented, avoid protracted and contentious interference 
resolution disputes, provide translator licensees additional 
flexibility to remediate interference, provide translator licensees 
with additional investment certainty, and allow earlier and expedited 
resolution of interference complaints by affected stations.
Legal Basis
    19. The proposed action is authorized pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 
4(j), 301, 303, 307, 308, 309, 316, and 319 of the Communications Act, 
47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 301, 303, 307, 308, 309, 316, and 319.
Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the 
Proposed Rules Will Apply
    20. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where 
feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines 
the term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms 
``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same 
meaning as the term ``small business concern'' under the Small Business 
Act. A small business concern is one which: (1) Is independently owned 
and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) 
satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA. Below, we 
provide a description of such small entities, as well as an estimate of 
the number of such small entities, where feasible.
    21. Radio Stations. This Economic Census category ``comprises 
establishments primarily engaged in broadcasting aural programs by 
radio to the public. Programming may originate in their own studio, 
from an affiliated network, or from external sources.'' The SBA has 
established a small business size standard for this category as firms 
having $38.5 million or less in annual receipts. Economic Census data 
for 2012 shows that 2,849 radio station firms operated during that 
year. Of that number, 2,806 operated with annual receipts of less than 
$25 million per year, 17 with annual receipts between $25 million and 
$49,999,999 million and 26 with annual receipts of $50 million or more. 
Therefore, based on the SBA's size standard, the majority of such 
entities are small entities.
    22. According to BIA/Kelsey Publications, Inc.'s Media Access Pro 
Database, on March 30, 2018, 10,859 (or about 99.94 percent) of the 
then total number of FM radio stations (10,865); 4,629 (or about 99.94 
percent) of the then total number of AM radio stations (4,632); and all 
of the 7,238 total FM translator stations (100 percent) had revenues of 
$38.5 million or less for the year ending 2017, and thus qualify as 
small entities under the SBA definition. We note that in assessing 
whether a business entity qualifies as small under the above 
definition, business control affiliations must be included. This 
estimate, therefore, likely overstates the number of small entities 
that might be affected, because the revenue figure on which it is based 
does not include or aggregate revenues from affiliated companies.
    23. As noted above, an element of the definition of ``small 
business'' is that the entity not be dominant in its field of 
operation. The Commission is unable at this time to define or quantify 
the criteria that would establish whether a specific radio station is 
dominant in its field of operation. Accordingly, the estimate of small 
businesses to which rules may apply does not exclude any radio station 
from the definition of a small business on this basis and therefore may 
be over-inclusive to that extent. Also, as noted, an additional element 
of the definition of ``small business'' is that the entity must be 
independently owned and operated. The Commission notes that it is 
difficult at times to assess these criteria in the context of media 
entities and the estimates of small businesses to which they apply may 
be over-inclusive to this extent.
Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements
    24. The rule changes proposed in the NPRM would, if adopted, 
potentially increase the number of listener complaints that must be 
included with an interference claim to a minimum of six and increase 
the amount of information to be included with each listener complaint 
to include signed listener statements regarding listening regularity 
and disinterestedness in the complaining station. However, licensees 
are encouraged to resolve interference complaints privately and the 
recourse of filing an interference claim with the Commission is purely 
voluntary. Moreover, the type of information to be filed (i.e., 
information required to be included with listener complaints) is 
already familiar to broadcasters, so the additional paperwork burdens 
would be minimal.
Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Impact on Small Entities and 
Significant Alternatives Considered
    25. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant 
alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, 
which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) 
The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or 
timetables that take into account the resources available to small 
entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of 
compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; 
(3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an 
exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small 
entities.
    26. In the NPRM, the Commission seeks comment on its proposal to 
offer additional flexibility to translator licensees, including small 
entities, by allowing them to resolve interference issues using the 
effective and low-cost method of submitting a minor modification 
application to change frequency to any available FM channel. We also 
propose to clarify the information that must be contained in each 
listener interference complaint, thus potentially reducing lengthy and 
resource-intensive disputes over listener bona fides. The Commission 
does not anticipate that the proposed certifications would add much, if 
any, time needed to collect each listener complaint. These requirements 
could also potentially reduce the need for pleadings to be filed at a 
later stage to

[[Page 26236]]

prosecute or defend an interference claim. To discourage the filing of 
poorly substantiated interference claims, we propose to require that a 
minimum number of listener complaints be submitted with each FM 
translator interference and that listener complaints beyond a certain 
contour would not be considered actionable. Finally, the Commission 
seeks comment on streamlining the FM translator interference resolution 
process by relying on technical data rather than requiring listener 
involvement with the resolution process after prima facie interference 
has been established by a minimum number of properly documented 
listener complaints. We anticipate that these proposals will facilitate 
a consistent and fair interference claim resolution process and reduce 
the number of prolonged and contentious FM translator proceedings. 
Alternatives considered by the Bureau include retaining the existing 
process, requiring a greater or lesser number of listener complaints to 
be submitted with each claim, establishing a greater or lesser contour 
beyond which listener complaints would not be considered actionable, 
and alternative forms of technical data, such as field strength tests, 
to demonstrate resolution of translator interference complaints. The 
NPRM requests comment on the effect of the proposed rule changes on all 
affected entities. The Commission is open to consideration of 
alternatives to the proposals under consideration, including but not 
limited to alternatives that will minimize the burden on FM 
broadcasters, many of whom are small businesses.
Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Proposed Rule
    27. None.

Ex Parte Rules

    28. Permit But Disclose. The proceeding this NPRM initiates shall 
be treated as a ``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with 
the Commission's ex parte rules. Ex parte presentations are permissible 
if disclosed in accordance with Commission rules, except during the 
Sunshine Agenda period when presentations, ex parte or otherwise, are 
generally prohibited. Persons making ex parte presentations must file a 
copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral 
presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a 
different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons 
making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda 
summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or 
otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte 
presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and 
arguments made during the presentation. Memoranda must contain a 
summary of the substance of the ex parte presentation and not merely a 
listing of the subjects discussed. More than a one or two sentence 
description of the views and arguments presented is generally required. 
If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation 
of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written 
comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter 
may provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior 
comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page 
and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in 
lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to 
Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex 
parte presentations and must be filed consistent with Sec.  1.1206(b) 
of the rules. In proceedings governed by Sec.  1.49(f) of the rules or 
for which the Commission has made available a method of electronic 
filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral 
ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed 
through the electronic comment filing system available for that 
proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, 
.ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should 
familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

Filing Procedures

    29. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's 
rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and 
reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of 
this document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic 
Comment Filing System (ECFS). Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed 
electronically using the internet by accessing the ECFS: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/.
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the internet by accessing the ECFS: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/.
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket 
or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number.
    [cir] Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by 
commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
    [cir] All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for 
the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 
12th St. SW, Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 
8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with 
rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of 
before entering the building.
    [cir] Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Drive, 
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701.
    [cir] U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail 
must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554.
     People with Disabilities: To request materials in 
accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, 
electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or 
call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 
(voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).

Ordering Clauses

    30. It is ordered that, pursuant to the authority contained in 
Sec.  1.407 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.407, the Petitions for 
Rulemaking filed by National Association of Broadcasters and Aztec 
Capital Partners, Inc. are granted to the extent specified herein.
    31. It is further ordered that, pursuant to the authority contained 
in sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 301, 303, 307, 308, 309, 316, and 319 of the 
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 
301, 303, 307, 308, 309, 316, and 319, this Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking is adopted.
    32. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of 
the Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 74

    Communications equipment, Education, Radio, Reporting and

[[Page 26237]]

recordkeeping requirements, Research, Television.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene Dortch,
Secretary, Office of the Secretary.

Proposed Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 74 as follows:

PART 74--EXPERIMENTAL RADIO, AUXILIARY, SPECIAL BROADCAST AND OTHER 
PROGRAM DISTRIBUTIONAL SERVICES

0
1. The authority citation for part 74 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, 307, 309, 310, 336 and 554.

0
2. Section 74.1201 is amended by adding paragraph (k) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  74.1201   Definitions.

* * * * *
    (k) Listener complaint. A complaint that is signed by the listener 
and contains the following information:
    (1) Full name and contact information;
    (2) A clear, concise, and accurate description of the location 
where the interference is alleged or predicted to occur;
    (3) A statement that the complainant listens to the desired station 
at least twice a month; and
    (4) A statement that the complainant has no legal, financial, or 
familial affiliation with the desired station.
0
3. Section 74.1203 is amended by revising paragraph (a)(3) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  74.1203   Interference.

    (a) * * *
    (3) The direct reception by the public of the off-the-air signals 
of any full service station or previously authorized secondary station. 
Interference will be considered to occur whenever reception of a 
regularly used signal, as demonstrated by six or more listener 
complaints as defined in Sec.  74.1201(k) and a map plotting specific 
listener addresses in relation to the relevant station contours, is 
impaired by the signals radiated by the FM translator or booster 
station, regardless of the quality of such reception or the channel on 
which the protected signal is transmitted; except that no listener 
complaint will be considered actionable if the alleged interference 
occurs outside the desired station's 54 dB[micro] contour.
* * * * *
0
4. Section 74.1204 is amended by revising paragraph (f) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  74.1204   Protection of FM broadcast, FM Translator and LP100 
stations.

* * * * *
    (f) An application for an FM translator station will not be 
accepted for filing even though the proposed operation would not 
involve overlap of field strength contours with any other station, as 
set forth in paragraph (a) of this section, if grant of the 
authorization will result in interference to the reception of a 
regularly used, off-the-air signal of any authorized co-channel, first, 
second or third adjacent channel broadcast station, including 
previously authorized secondary service stations, within the 54 
dB[micro] field strength contour of the desired station, as 
demonstrated by six or more listener complaints, as defined in Sec.  
74.1201(k), as well as a map plotting specific listener addresses in 
relation to the relevant station contours.
* * * * *
0
5. Section 74.1233 is amended by revising paragraph (a)(1) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  74.1233   Processing FM translator and booster station 
applications.

    (a) * * *
    (1) In the first group are applications for new stations or for 
major changes in the facilities of authorized stations. For FM 
translator stations, a major change is:
    (i) Any change in frequency (output channel) except:
    (A) Changes to first, second or third adjacent channels, or 
intermediate frequency channels; or
    (B) Upon a showing of interference to or from any other broadcast 
station, remedial changes to any frequency; or
    (ii) Any change in antenna location where the station would not 
continue to provide 1 mV/m service to some portion of its previously 
authorized 1 mV/m service area.
    (iii) In addition, any change in frequency relocating a station 
from the non-reserved band to the reserved band, or from the reserved 
band to the non-reserved band, will be considered major. All other 
changes will be considered minor. All major changes are subject to the 
provisions of Sec. Sec.  73.3580 and 1.1104 of this chapter pertaining 
to major changes.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2018-11964 Filed 6-5-18; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P