FCC will allow low-power FMs in urban markets, accept applications in October 2013

The FCC adopted new rules today regarding low-power FM stations, paving the way to accept a wave of applications for new LPFMs in October 2013. Under the rules, the FCC will allow LPFMs on second-adjacent frequencies to full-power FM stations if the low-power applicant provides evidence that the new station will not cause interference. These second-adjacency waivers will allow for more low-power stations in big cities where the FM band is more crowded. Other provisions of the Report and Order adopted today include:

A modified point system that will give an edge to Native applicants and to LPFMs with a staffed main studio and local programming;
Permission of cross-ownership of an LPFM station and up to two translator stations;
And an allowance for tribal nations to operate more than one LPFM. The Prometheus Radio Project, which advocates for low-power radio, estimates that the number of LPFMs in America could double or triple after the next filing window.

FCC to clear translator backlog, create new LPFMs

The FCC took another step March 19 toward licensing more low-power FM stations, a move long advocated by community radio leaders. The agency will work through a backlog of thousands of applications for FM translators under a new system that it formally adopted, modifying a proposal floated last summer (Current, July 25, 2011). The pending translator apps must be processed before any new LPFM licenses can be awarded. The commission will toss out FM translator apps in larger markets to make way for LPFMs in those areas while continuing to process requests for translators in less-populous areas. Applicants can seek no more than 50 translator licenses nationwide, a new limitation cracking down on speculative filings seen in the past (Current, March 28, 2005).

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.