LPFM, FM Translators, on FCC’s Tentative Agenda

Barring the items falling off the agenda for one reason or another, at its Nov. 30 meeting the commission intends to take another crack at balancing the needs of new low-power FM owners versus stations that have pending FM translator applications.

The agency intends to expand LPFM ownership opportunities by implementing the Local Community Radio Act and also expects to vote on final procedures to approve the more than 6,000 FM translator applications that have been pending since 2003.

Prometheus Lobbies FCC on LPFM

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 self-winnowed its pending translator applications from 500 to 300, opposes 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, something NAB and NPR believe should only happen in very limited cases.

In recent lobbying trips to the Portals, Prometheus Radio Group has also pushed for higher-power LPFM stations, something the Amherst Alliance also supports, as well as program origination requirements.

Both the LPFM and the translator issues are on the agency’s tentative agenda for the Nov. 30 meeting; however the issues could be voted on earlier or, if no consensus is reached before the meeting, postponed.


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