Is the anticipated
window for filing applications for new low-power FM stations starting to slip? It
appears so, according to at least one LPFM proponent.
After a recent
meeting with FCC staff about low-power FM, Prometheus Radio Project Policy
Director Brandy Doyle says Prometheus believes the agency is on track to open a
filing window for new LPFMs by year-end. If so, that’s some six months after
the FCC’s original goal of this summer.
To reach the goal of
opening a new LPFM application window, we’ve reported a lot has to happen
first. The commission needs to decide how to handle the thousands of pending FM
translator applications from the last window and release the “final” rules
implementing the Local Community Radio Act, allowing the LPFM service to expand
to third-adjacent channels.
When asked by Radio
World about the timing, Doyle said Prometheus anticipates the agency will
release a translator order soon, then complete the LCRA rule-making.
“We also need some time between the publication of the rules
and the window, for applicants to find their frequencies and prepare their applications,”
according to Doyle.
Overall, Prometheus hopes to see a licensing window that
gives LPFM a real foothold for the first time, one which allows, in the FCC’s
words, “a robust, dynamic and permanent LPFM service in larger markets,” Doyle
said. This will require the dismissal of some pending translator applications
in urban areas, she noted.
“For LPFM to meet its potential as a community radio
service, we need stations in areas with significant population,” said Doyle. “A
year after the passage of the Local Community Radio Act, the FCC seems ready to
take steps to get us there.”
On the question of timing, another LPFM proponent, the
Amherst Alliance, tells Radio World it’s concerned that the apparent delay may
not be the last one given the upcoming presidential election and hopes to see
an LPFM application window open by August, if possible.