FCC: LPFM a Tiny Fish in Big Pond

The FCC has released its long-awaited economic assessment of the LPFM radio service. Although the need for such a study was initially dismissed as unnecessary more than eight years ago, the commercial broadcast lobby forced the agency to conduct the research as part of the compromise which allowed for the passage of the Local Community Radio Act last year.

Radio Survivor’s Paul Riismandel has a good overview of the report and its findings. More detail below on salient points: Read More

FCC Mulls Fine Print of LPFM

Reply comments in the FCC’s ongoing rulemaking to expand the LPFM service are due on September 27. REC Networks‘ Michi Eyre has written an excellent (and wonky!) summary of comments filed in the proceeding to date by those who have focused on the elephant in the room – the troubled relationship between LPFM and FM translator stations.

Over the last twenty years, the use of FM translators has evolved dramatically. Once a secondary service, such stations are now being deployed as stand-alone outlets around the country. Following the creation of the LPFM service, broadcasters made a run on spectrum for FM translators which has resulted in seven translators going on the air for every one LPFM station over the last decade.

The FCC is now attempting to “level the playing field” so that the explosive growth of translators does not suffocate any LPFM expansion. Read More

FCC Considers LPFM Expansion

This week the FCC released another Notice of Proposed Rulemaking designed to expand the LPFM service, with special emphasis on the placement of new LPFM stations in cities. The primary point of contention is how the agency should treat LPFM stations with regard to FM translators.

(A quick overview: LPFM stations broadcast with 100 watts or less and must be live and local, while FM translators can broadcast with up to 250 watts and may not originate their own programming.)

The spectral conflict between LPFM and translator stations is a big one. On purely technical grounds they are essentially equivalent services, but by rule translators may be sited closer to neighbors on the dial than LPFM stations can. In addition, since the first round of LPFMs were licensed a decade ago (of which 829 are on the air), several thousand FM translators have begun broadcasting in the intervening years. Read More

“Studying” the Implicatons of LPFM’s Expansion

As part of the compromises made to pass the Local Community Radio Act through Congress, a provision was inserted which requires the Federal Communications Commission to examine the “economic impact” LPFM stations have on full-power FM stations.

Comments on the proposed ground-rules of the “study” are due to the FCC in a month, and the study itself is supposed to be tendered to Congress early next year.

The FCC must probe two questions: what effects will an LPFM expansion have on the advertising revenue and audience-share of full-power radio stations?

On its face, the “study” is nothing more than a make-work exercise for the FCC, arguably designed to slow down the expansion of the LPFM service. Its primary questions are absurd – and pretty simply answered. Read More

Prometheus Radio Project Founder Moving On

Last week, the founder and Director of Electromagnetism of the Prometheus Radio Project, Pete Tridish, announced his departure from the organization.

Beginning from a background in unlicensed broadcasting based around the Philadelphia station Radio Mutiny, Pete was instrumental in not only organizing microbroadcasters in the lead-up to the FCC’s debate over LPFM more than 10 years ago, but he also worked tirelessly to convince Congress to pass the Local Community Radio Act late last year, which will expand the number of LPFM stations on the nation’s dial.

Apparently, his departure has been in the works for several months, but the announcement was held off so as to not detract from the LCRA advocacy campaign. Read More