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Prometheus: LPFM Window Now Expected in Late 2012

Lots of things need to happen before Local Community Radio Act implementation.

Is the anticipated window for filing applications for new low-power FM stations starting to slip? It appears so, according to at least one LPFM proponent.

After a recent meeting with FCC staff about low-power FM, Prometheus Radio Project Policy Director Brandy Doyle says Prometheus believes the agency is on track to open a filing window for new LPFMs by year-end. If so, that’s some six months after the FCC’s original goal of this summer.

To reach the goal of opening a new LPFM application window, we’ve reported a lot has to happen first. The commission needs to decide how to handle the thousands of pending FM translator applications from the last window and release the “final” rules implementing the Local Community Radio Act, allowing the LPFM service to expand to third-adjacent channels.

When asked by Radio World about the timing, Doyle said Prometheus anticipates the agency will release a translator order soon, then complete the LCRA rule-making.

“We also need some time between the publication of the rules and the window, for applicants to find their frequencies and prepare their applications,” according to Doyle.

Overall, Prometheus hopes to see a licensing window that gives LPFM a real foothold for the first time, one which allows, in the FCC’s words, “a robust, dynamic and permanent LPFM service in larger markets,” Doyle said. This will require the dismissal of some pending translator applications in urban areas, she noted.

“For LPFM to meet its potential as a community radio service, we need stations in areas with significant population,” said Doyle. “A year after the passage of the Local Community Radio Act, the FCC seems ready to take steps to get us there.”

On the question of timing, another LPFM proponent, the Amherst Alliance, tells Radio World it’s concerned that the apparent delay may not be the last one given the upcoming presidential election and hopes to see an LPFM application window open by August, if possible.