For LPFMers, radio act brings ‘a ton of joy’

Low-power FM advocates are celebrating a hard-won victory with enactment of the Local Community Radio Act, approved in the last days of the 111th Congress and signed Jan. 4 by President Obama. The law clears the way for expansion of low-power FM stations, a noncommercial licensing category established by the FCC a decade ago but confined to small markets and rural communities by interference-protection rules demanded by full-power broadcasters. Their transmitter power is limited to 100 watts, reaching from three to five miles. Approved with bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, the law gives the FCC more flexibility in assigning channels to LPFMs and resolving interference problems with full-power FMs and their translators.