Local talks and new national rules aim to end wasteful overlap of stations

From here on out, it will be a lot harder to volunteer a public broadcasting station into existence. For a quarter-century, you mainly needed an FCC license that nobody else had snapped up yet, plus a minimal bankroll to show you had local support, and you could lay claim on a small share of CPB’s federal appropriation. The ordeal of starting a station was itself a test of mettle, but the field had no self-imposed or government-imposed criteria to select licensees, or national plans for rational siting of stations for universal coverage of the population. It may soon have such rules. Battered by claims that they are fat and wasteful, and facing the loss of some or all of their federal aid, pubcasters are pursuing cost-saving pacts with colleagues in Louisville, Denver and elsewhere.