NAB/NPR on LPFM: Forked Tongues

REC Networks has collected and posted summaries of several “constituency comments” (those filed by groups representing communities of interest), doing the thankless job of weeding through the auto-file form-fill spam.

The National Association of Broadcasters, predictably, opposes any changes to the FCC’s LPFM rules that might expand the service, continuing to peddle fully-debunked claims that 100-watt stations have the potential to cause “harmful interference” to stations 10 to 1,000 times their size in terms of power.

The comments – which took three NAB executives, three staffers (including former high-level FCC staff), and two law clerks to write and sign off on – also rubs the agency’s nose in the fact that it is prohibited by congressional fiat from relaxing channel-spacing rules to create space for LPFM stations in urban areas. Read More

Translator Invasion Freeze Petition Filed

Today REC Networks, Prometheus Radio Project, and a gaggle of D.C. media advocacy groups filed an emergency petition with the FCC for a freeze on the processing of translator applications from 2003. That was the application window in which 13,000+ applications were filed, of which 4,000+ were part of a scheme to provide turnkey radio networks to religious broadcasters.

The petition reports that World Radio Link, Inc. is apparently the marketing arm of the scheme. It advertised prominently at the National Religious Broadcasters annual convention last month that it

[r]epresents the two largest filers of FM translator applications in the FCC’s most recent FM filing window. These two applicants, Radio Assist Ministry and Edgewater Broadcasting, are making available for acquisition hundreds of these FM translator station construction permits to existing or new entrant Christian broadcasters throughout the country. 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