Clyburn Calls LPFM Expansion a “Phenomenal Success Story”

On AM revitalization, says more than 600 applications have been filed to relocated FM translators
By Paul McLane,

A phenomenal success story.

That’s the assessment of Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn about the expansion of the LPFM service in the United States.

Speaking at last week’s NAB Show, Clyburn said the Federal Communications Commission has been working to encourage new entrants into commercial media.

“As you know, low-power FM radio service was created as a way to serve local and/or underrepresented groups within communities,” she said, according to a text of her remarks from the commission. “In just over two years since the LPFM filing window opened, 1,900 construction permits for new LPFM stations have been issued with the expectation that by the end of this year, there will be approximately 2,000 LPFM station operating on the air. This phenomenal success story will result in a diversity of new viewpoints and hyper local content that is so desperately needed in our country.”

Clyburn, who holds one of the Democratic seats on the commission, also noted the FCC’s revitalization efforts, which she helped launch.

“AM radio is part of the foundation of our media landscape and has tied communities together for generations,” she said. “It is also one of the more diverse parts of our dial, which is why since my time as Acting Chair, I have consistently advocated for actions that provide relief to AM broadcasters.”

She said female- and minority-owned stations make up a greater percentage of stations on the AM dial than the FM dial. “And my professional career was buoyed on a station that could be found for years on the AM dial in Charleston, South Carolina. So yes, I have a special affection for the AM service and its place in our culture.”

She said more than 600 applications have been filed to relocate FM translators for AM rebroadcast use. “In practice this means an opportunity to extend programming hours, boost listenership and increase advertiser support. I am pleased to report that the Media Bureau staff, to date, granted 80 percent of these applications, a critical step towards ensuring the long-term viability of AM broadcasting.”

Clyburn also noted that the commission soon will conduct its required review of broadcast ownership rules.

“I have never been shy in saying that we need a better, more comprehensive picture of the current state of female and minority ownership.” She noted that the commission made changes to Form 323, which tracks media ownership.

“This order will enable the commission, to obtain data reflecting a more useful, accurate, and thorough assessment of minority and female broadcast station ownership in the U.S. And importantly for this audience, we adopted some processing changes that will reduce certain filing burdens. This information is critical in measuring the amount of minority ownership across the country.”