There’s a lot of good things in the latest Report and Order. LPFM stations have finally achieved something close to technical and legal parity with FM translator stations. LPFM rules have been refined to provide a substantive preference for those who actually plan to focus on live and local programming. And the next filing window for new LPFM stations will open in the fall of next year.
This crowdsourced funding call to build a new community radio station crossed my tweet-stream Tuesday. The Media Institute for Social Change, a non-profit media literacy/empowerment group in Portland, Oregon, has apparently secured a “rare opportunity” to build a new radio station in town. The goal of its campaign is to raise $3,500 by November 16. As of today, $2,220 has been pledged.
“We have accomplished perhaps the hardest part – we have acquired an FCC license, an incredibly rare commodity,” writes the Media Institute for Social Change’s executive director Phil Busse. “Your donation, quite literally, will be the nucleus around which the radio station is built….
On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission announced further rules designed to expand the LPFM radio service. This is likely to be the last significant opportunity for budding community broadcasters to obtain an LPFM license. Radio Survivor’s Paul Riismandel has an overview of the FCC’s action, while REC Networks Michi Eyre has written a thorough synopsis of its nuts and bolts.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the FCC’s proposed handling of a flood of applications for FM translators. More than 6,000 applications for translators are pending from a 2003 filing window (when more than 13,000 applications were tendered). This run on translators has already scarfed up lots of FM spectrum that could have gone toward an LPFM expansion.
The abuse of FM translators continues unabated, and may be more insidious than anyone realizes – including (and especially) the FCC.
First there was Clark Parrish, the mastermind who swamped the FCC’s license-application system during a 2003 filing window for new translators. He applied for thousands of stations under the guise of two shell corporations – Radio Assist Ministry and Edgewater Broadcasting – with the intent of selling them off to other broadcasters so that he could build his own full-power religious radio empire with the proceeds.
The FCC, in response to outcry over such blatant sentimentalizing, froze a goodly portion of his translator applications in 2005. The entire mess remains unresolved today, though the FCC must untangle it before moving forward with an expansion of the LPFM radio service.