Benchmarking low power radio


Broadcast Tower2013 figures to be the year that the FCC finally gets around to clearing out a backlog of FM translator applications and kicking off a program to increase the number of low power FMs. To see how successful the effort proves to be, we thought we’d record a few facts at the point at which it is kicking off.

The FCC has been ordered by Congress to increase the number of low power FM stations, a non-profit service designed to make FM spectrum available to various community organizations. The major thrust of the new effort is to find a way to squeeze them into crowded major urban airwaves, chiefly by eliminating 3rd adjacency protection for incumbent full power stations, and possibly granting waivers in some cases where there is a second adjacency provided the new LPFM does not cause any interference.

Meanwhile, LCRA instructs the FCC to deal with long-pending applications for FM translators which have been on the back burner while the LPFM program inched its way through Washington’s federal machinery.

The FCC is instructed to grant as many translators as possible – some of which are sought by radio operators seeking to expand the reach of struggling AM stations, particularly daytimers, while at the same time making sure there are opportunities for LPFMs in all markets.

The target date to begin the process of distributing licenses is October 15, 2013.

So here’s where we stand as of 12/30/12:
Full power AM stations: 4,738
Full power FM stations: 6,598
FM translators: 6,075
Low power FM: 809

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see the new totals at the end of 2013.