FCC approves rules proposal on low-power FM stations

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The Federal Communications Commission is getting closer to creating new low-power FM stations and approving rebroadcasting programming from other stations, according to the Blog of the Legal Times. With a 4-0 vote Tuesday (July 12), the FCC “breaks a longstanding logjam on spectrum,” said chairman Julius Genachowski. The problems have been ongoing since 2000, when Congress put low-power radio in urban areas on hold after commercial broadcasters complained about interference.

In Tuesday’s Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF), the FCC approved lifting a freeze on processing translator applications and resuming licensing of translator stations in most smaller and rural markets. In urban markets, applicants must re-file. The commission also proposed moving ahead with applications for new low-power licenses within a year.

The Prometheus Radio Project, which advocates for low-power radio, praised the vote in a statement. “Today the FCC starts to redeem the promise made to thousands of community groups and national organizations that successfully fought to pass the Local Community Radio Act,” said Brandy Doyle, policy director at Prometheus. “The Act requires the FCC to ensure channels for low-power stations, and we believe a market-specific solution could accomplish that.”