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FCC Has Conducted LPFM Market Analysis as It Anticipates New Applications

Agency may be preparing to readdress translator cap

The FCC is busy working on new low-power FM rules in light of December’s Community Radio Act of 2010 that allows elimination of third-adjacent channel protections for full-power FMs to fit new LPFMs on the band.

Audio Division Chief Peter Doyle said, “We’ve done extensive market-by-market analysis” about where new low-power stations could be allocated. The protection changes will “provide meaningful opportunities for LPFMs” even in large markets, he told attendees of “The FCC And You” session at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

It sounds like the commission is rethinking its proposed FM translator cap for frozen translator applications, previously announced in anticipation of opening a new LPFM application window.

Some parties argued the cap is ineffective to provide spectrum relief in the largest markets, and unnecessary in the smaller markets where’s there’s ample spectrum for both LPFMs and translators, Doyle said . He added that if the FCC agrees, “It means we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and think about a translator processing policy that does a better job of ensuring that licenses will be available in the largest markets.”

Asked after the session by Radio World when the LPFM rulemaking could be completed, Doyle said the item “is deep into the process” and he hopes its ready “in weeks, not months.”

— Leslie Stimson