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10,000 LPFM Applications?

Community activist thinks demand could be heavy

Community media activist Jim Ellinger got the attention of the low-power FM community this week when he predicted there may be as many as 10,000 applications for new LPFM licenses when the expected window opens.

He also wondered aloud whether the FCC servers would be up to the task.

Ellinger runs a nonprofit, Austin Airwaves, based in Texas. He issued a press release saying he was told by a “previously reliable government source” in the Audio Division of the FCC in late January that the commission is “shooting for the fall” for the opening of an LPFM application window.

“Another source outside the commission, long familiar with the LPFM issue, stated she thought that the FCC wanted to get ‘the process rolling before the presidential election,’” he continued.

Ellinger speculated that there could be so many applications nationwide thanks to the easing of interference rules. But he also quoted his FCC contact saying, “We never know what a particular demand will be until we open a window. We have stopped conjecturing about how many applications there may be. … I have consistently under-guessed how many applications are going to be filed. I have stopped guessing.”

He also quoted Prometheus Radio Project Community Radio Director Vanessa Maria Graber saying Prometheus favors multiple application windows for different regions “because of the limited number of engineers and lawyers who are qualified to help organizations apply … (But) regardless of whether or not the FCC will have multiple windows, groups should waste no time in preparing to apply for a construction permit.”

Ellinger noted that the number of low-power stations awarded will depend in part on how the FCC resolves the translator/LPFM priority issue. He said a proposed rulemaking about translators is expected this month.

Austin Airwaves has been an advocate for expansion of LPFM. Ellinger says his group “uses radio as a tool for economic and social development, and increasingly, to serve post-disaster communities, both in the U.S. and around the world.”

Prometheus: LPFM Window Now Expected in Late 2012