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Do Largest Markets Have Room for New LPFMs?

It’ll be a key question, and advocates are trying to determine just that

Prometheus Radio Project and other low-power FM advocacy groups have been crunching numbers to figure out if the largest markets have room for any of the new LPFMs anticipated to come to the FM band.

Some observers have told Radio World they expect thousands of applications to be filed whenever the commission opens an application filing window; but it remains unclear exactly how many of those new stations could actually be licensed after third-adjacent protections for full-power FMs are dropped to fit in more 100-watt facilities. Steps to implement the Local Community Radio Act, which President Obama signed last month, have yet to be spelled out in new and revised LPFM rules by the FCC.

“We have just completed an analysis of the top 30 radio markets for available frequencies based on using second- and third-adjacent channels for 100- or 10-watt LPFMs,” according to John Broomall of Christian Community Broadcasters in a comment posted below an LPFM discussion at Radio Survivor. “The largest market with anything available based on [the Local Community Radio Act] is Phoenix, Market #15. Only three other top 30 markets have 100-watt openings and three have 10-watt frequencies.” Broomall stressed to Radio World that he had considered both third- and second-adjacent channels when he says there are few frequencies available in larger markets.

Radio World asked Prometheus Regulatory Policy Director Brandy Doyle about expectations. She said: “We do believe there will be LPFM stations in larger markets, though we expect that the FCC in many cases will need to use its authority to grant second-adjacent waivers to find room.”

So far, the FCC has only authorized 100-watt stations. RW asked Doyle if Prometheus anticipates the FCC saying anything about 10-watt service in its new/revised LPFM rules. Doyle said she has not heard “any news” about authorizing 10-watt LPFMs in recent years.

Broomall told Radio World earlier that he anticipates the commission opening a filing window for LPFM applications by the end of this year; some advocates believe a 2012 timeframe is likely.

It’s a New Day for the Radio Dial” (Jan. 2010)