FCC 2011: LPFM moves forward


Radio is by any definition a mature technology – and that goes double for stations operating in the AM band. As such, the FCC’s Fiscal Year 2011 Performance Report didn’t have a whole lot on the topic – but it did note the forwarding of an expanded LPFM service and an attempt to clear pirates out of the FM band. Here’s what the FCC did in the radio sphere during 2011:

* Finally, the Commission adopted an Order that will help expand opportunities for Tribal entities to provide broadcast radio services to Native communities.

* The Commission adopted the implementation details for the voluntary commitment made by Sirius XM to lease a portion of its channel capacity to Qualified Entities. This action represents an important step that will promote access for new entrants and more diverse programming in the satellite digital audio radio service.

* The FCC provided a boost to local community radio by charting a path forward to the licensing of new Low Power FM (LPFM) stations. The procedures proposed in an NPRM will balance the needs of LPFM, translator, and booster stations in accordance with the framework established by Congress in the Local Community Radio Act. The Commission adopted three Orders to pick tentative selectees out of mutually exclusive applications for Noncommercial Educational FM (NCE) Stations. These Orders will lead to many new NCE stations nationwide.

* The Enforcement Bureau investigated numerous instances of unlicensed (pirate) broadcasting, including cases involving interference to licensed broadcasters, air traffic control frequencies, and other public safety communications. These investigations resulted in the issuance of 103 Notices of Unlicensed Operation, 158 warnings, and 14 Notices of Apparent Liability proposing forfeitures totaling $222,000.