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LPFM Supporters Split on Tiered Market Proposal

Initial reactions range from support to concern

Reactions varied among low-power FM proponents to the FCC’s initial proposal to implement the Local Community Radio Act. The commission is seeking to break an impasse involving FM translator applicants and low-power stations, to ensure that more LPFMs are licensed.

Prometheus Radio Project supports the tiered, market-based approach proposed by the FCC, under which the commission would either dismiss or process all pending FM translator applications in a market if a certain “LPFM channel floor” is met in that market.

Brandy Doyle, policy director at the Prometheus Radio Project, stated: “The act requires the FCC to ensure channels for low-power stations, and we believe a market-specific solution could accomplish that.”

And: “We have always thought that the FCC needed a more practical way of balancing rural and urban usage of LPFM and translator channels,” saidTodd Urick, technical director at Common Frequency, a non-profit advocating for college and community radio. The rulemaking “appropriately relies on technical analysis to determine spectrum allocation.”

Don Schellhardt indicated that the Amherst Alliance is neutral on the proposed market-by-market approach, telling Radio World Amherst members need time to review the item.

Christian Community Broadcasters representative John Broomall said he believes that with spectrum limited nationally and 6,500 pending translator applications, few opportunities in small towns and rural areas will be left after the new FM translators get on the air. “CCB hopes — as the complete FCC plan is developed in the next few months — that the reality will be as exciting as the promise.”

In an initial reaction, Michi Eyre of REC Networks stated REC is concerned that the so-called market-based approach could be unfair to markets “that have a large amount of land mass as those areas could be taken into consideration as having LPFM availability while continuing to disadvantage the metropolitan areas.”

REC feels a location-centric model that uses population coverage instead of county/market boundaries would better fairly distribute frequencies for LPFM while continuing to make them available for translators.

Comments on the notice (PDF) are due 30 days after Federal Register publication (Dockets 99-25 and 07-172.)