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LPFM-AG Proposal Gets LPFM Talking

Bradley: New petition “has struck some chords”

It’s not known whether the FCC will seek public comments on a proposal for big LPFM rule changes put forward this week by the Low Power FM Advocacy Group.

But reactions to it have been quick and strong.

One observer posted a comment to Radio World’s website saying that the organization is basically proposing an “LPFM welfare system.” Another said, “I love the concept of community radio, but I really believe that you either follow the rules laid down by the FCC or you go away.”

But a third called it “a reasonable proposal.” And Sevena Ward, writing for LPFM-AG, also commented on the Radio World site, saying, “It’s not so much for the broadcasters. It’s more for the listeners. LPFM should be able to barter commercials for emergency programming, news, weather, etc. The rules were written before there was commercial-free Internet radio.” (Read those and other reactions in full below our original story.)

A nuanced reaction came from Michi Bradley, founder of REC Networks. “REC continues to oppose LPFM being in a situation where commercial and non-commercial interests would compete for spectrum due to regulations and statutes that require auctions to settle mutual exclusivities and puts community ownership at risk,” she wrote. “REC is also concerned about the economic impacts of minority-owned and family-owned full-power stations, especially in rural areas.” She said the ideas would need to be weighed on technical and other grounds, and that some changes may require congressional action.

But she said that based on her initial evaluations of the LPFM-AG proposal, “there are some aspects of the petition that do warrant consideration,” without listing them. “As demonstrated over the past few months on social media, the LPFM.AG petition has struck some chords both within the LPFM community as well as the full-power community especially over the ability for LPFM stations to air commercials.” She said the industry needs to be “open to all ideas and allow them to have their due process.”

Bradley said the petition “comes from a very important aspect of the LPFM service, the ‘microbroadcast’ segment,” those not started by existing “brick and mortar” church or community organizations but created solely for the purpose of running LPFM stations. “Unlike the other segments, the microbroadcast segment does not have the same funding sources and backing that other LPFM organizations may have.” She encouraged public comment and discussion in her blog post.