Shenanigans Afoot with LPFM: Beware of Calvary Chapel

Even though the FCC seems to have all but washed its hands of any further rollout of the LPFM service, there are those who are still trying to steal what crumbs we’ve got to work with. The antagonist of the moment is Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls.

Calvary Chapel petitioned the FCC in June to expand the use of “satellator” stations – translator stations fed by satellite as opposed to rebroadcasting another radio station directly – in the non-reserved band of the FM dial (everything above 91.9). As the rules currently stand, only translators located on noncommercial frequencies (88.1-91.9) can be fed by satellite; commercial translators must take their feeds from a parent full-power FM station. The FCC currently has a temporary freeze on any new translator applications for frequencies located at 92.1 or above. Read More

Multiple Skirmishes @ the FCC

Lots of activism in the form of paper-filing is taking place right now at the Federal Communications Commission.

A broad coalition of consumer rights, labor, and media democracy groups – representing both people working within and outside the media industry – have filed a petition to extend the FCC’s public comment deadline on its proposal to radically overhaul media ownership rules. The current comment deadline is December 2 – the FCC only planned to give the public a 90-day window in which to comment on this massive proposal – the coalition wants the comment period extended until April. Read More

Target: Translator

Translators: they are a pox on the FM radio dial.

Translators, by definition, are small low-power FM radio stations licensed with power levels of up to 250 watts. Translators are licensed by the FCC as “relay stations” only: they may not originate their own programming and must rebroadcast the signal from a full-power “parent station.”

Translators were originally designed to be used by FM radio stations located in difficult terrain, like mountainous regions of the United States, to help fill in gaps in their signal area.

Instead, several groups (most notably religious “pay to pray”-type broadcasters) have used the translator rules to build large networks of low-power radio stations across the country. Translators are easier to site and cheaper to build and operate than full-power FM radio stations. Read More

Multiple Threats

As groups get organized and prepare to apply for an LPFM license when the first opportunities come around in May, opposition to the new service is growing and attacking from multiple directions.

There are three threats which pose significant immediate danger to the new LPFM service. Each one is unique, and each one could shut the service down before it even starts.

The first threat is Congress. Rep. Mike Oxley’s (R-OH) “Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 1999” continues to draw more co-sponsors; it’s very likely that by the end of February, anti-LPFM forces will have mustered over half the votes they need to get the bill through the House of Representatives. Read More