Translator-Mongers and AM Stations Eye Expanded FM Band

Two suspicious proposals to expand the FM spectrum have surfaced at the FCC. While on its face the idea seems promising, the devil, as always, is in the details.

The first proposal was filed in late July by the Educational Media Foundation – parent company of the K-LOVE and AIR-1 Christian music radio networks, which can already be heard on more than 150 full-power, low-power, and FM translator stations.

A second, new group, called the “Broadcast Maximization Committee,” which represents the interests of AM broadcasters, followed up with its own proposal within days of EMF’s filing. It is difficult to believe the timing of the filings were coincidental. Read More

FCC Creates Another LPFM Loophole, Courts to Consider a Third

Right at about the same time the FCC granted special temporary authority to a pirate station in Nevada to operate without a license, the agency told a group of irate listeners in Texas that they, too, could have a station if they wanted to.

How? Some 263 of them wrote letters to the FCC requesting it deny the transfer of KTPB-FM’s license from a community college to the Educational Media Foundation. The well-known godcaster will flip the station’s format from classical to one of its “alternative” offerings.

Seemingly impressed by the outpouring of support for classical music, thought the FCC denied the listeners’ objections to the license transfer it entertained the option of them applying for an LPFM station license in order to “fill any programming void left by the sale of the station to EMF and change in format that EMF may make.” Read More

God Squads Fall From Grace

Thanks to curious loopholes in the FCC’s FM licensing rules, several religious broadcast companies have created national networks on the cheap using low-power, mostly-automated FM transmitters. Using their intimate familiarity with FCC bureaucracy, these companies also engage in spectrum hoarding and speculation.

The practice of spectrum speculation is nothing new, it’s a kind of side-industry in the broadcast business. Although they very seldom actually build a radio station, speculators apply for and acquire radio station construction permits and then sell them to the highest bidder. Channel spaces on the FM dial are a finite commodity – where supply is low and demand high a savvy speculator can make quite a bit of money if they have permits to build radio stations in growing markets. Read More