What may happen to the petition to create an FM Class C4 designation under FCC Chairman Pai’s leadership? Readers may recall SSR Communications CEO Matthew Wesolowski and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council petitioned the FCC in 2013 to add a new FM class in between Class A and Class C3. The proposed class would feature maximum ERP of 12 kW and maximum antenna height of 100 meters.

“The 12 kW Class C4 allocation would fill in the gap of the currently incompatible maximum effective radiated power relationship between FM Class A and FM Class C3,” said station owner Wesolowski, who’s also an engineer, in his petition. “Every adjacent FM ‘C Class’ allocation’s power level is 3.0 dB from the next (C3 to C2, C2 to C1, et cetera), while Class C3’s 25 kW is slightly more than 6 dB higher than Class A’s 6 kW. A 12kW authorization would be about 3.0 dB between either A or C3.”

Last fall, Commissioner Pai spoke at the NAB Radio Show about the concept, saying he thought the idea is worth considering. “An NPRM would allow us to ask the right questions, explore the advantages and disadvantages of the proposal, and receive the views of all stakeholders,” Pai said at the time, according to prepared remarks.

Recently, MMTC President Emeritus and Senior Advisor David Honig discussed the proposal in a letter to Chairman Pai and fellow Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly. The Commission previously invited public comments on the Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11727) and Honig stated that nearly 800 Class A FMs could potentially “double their power from 6,000 watts to 12,000 watts, and allow hundreds of stations of all classes to improve their technical facilities without impacting the protected signal contours of neighboring stations.” Honig asked the Commission to issue a NPRM on the initiative, noting that “Under the current regulatory environment, many independent and minority-owned stations are and will be forever unable to upgrade their facilities,” without the C4 classification.

Given the speed at which Chairman Pai is making decisions, we should know soon what the state of this petition is. FHH can help you decide if the new allocation would affect you.