FCC Poised to Act on LPFM, FM Translators

Prometheus Lobbies FCC on LPFM

Barring a last-minute snag, on Friday the FCC will finalize some decisions in its effort to balance the needs of those who’d like to own a low-power FM, and existing broadcasters wondering about the fate of their pending FM translator applications.

The agency intends to implement the Local Community Radio Act and also expects to vote on final procedures to process more than 6,000 FM translator applications that have been pending since 2003. These are the final steps toward opening a filing window, probably in summer 2013, that will allow nonprofit groups to apply for LPFM licenses.

At issue with the translator applications is a proposed nationwide cap of 50 apps and local cap of one-to-a-market per ownership group in the top 150 radio markets. Several broadcasters have challenged the caps as arbitrary. The Educational Media Foundation, which reduced its pending translator applications from 500 to 300, is one of those who oppose the caps, saying the threat of translator application speculation has been overstated.

Instead of caps on applications, EMF suggests limits could be placed on granted applications — or, to exempt small and unrated markets from the caps.

LPFM advocates have been pushing the FCC to approve second-adjacent channel spacing waivers more regularly in an effort to gain more stations in what the agency terms “spectrum-limited” markets. NAB and NPR believe those waivers should only happen in very limited cases.

Prometheus Radio Group has also pushed for higher-power — up to 250 watts — LPFMs, as well as program origination requirements. Other LPFM advocates, like REC Network, Common Frequency, Christian Community Broadcasters and the Amherst Alliance also support those goals in general.


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