FCC finds LPFM harmless to commercial radio


The FCC fulfilled one of the requirements of the Local Community Radio Act – compilation of a report on the effect of low power FM service on existing full-power radio stations, and it found that it was not a threat to either their audiences or their income. Bill co-sponsor Mike Doyle (D-PA) hailed the results as a no-brainer.

The FCC looked at Arbitron data where LPFMs were already in existence and could find no evidence that the stations were seriously eroding the number of listeners tuning into incumbent full power stations.

It could also find no evidence that LPFM underwriting was taking a bite out of incumbent station revenue. Prometheus testified that its researches in the operation of LPFMs revealed that 25% of an LPFM’s budget on average comes from underwriting, and the average annual budget is only $19.4K. Prometheus projected an annual LPFM total take of $7.25M, a tiny sliver of total annual radio revenue.

The FCC also looked at eight case studies. The entire report can be read here.

Doyle stated, “The results of this study were expected, but I’m glad there are solid numbers on the record now. The study confirmed the widespread belief that LPFMs don’t cause economic harm or interference to other stations. In fact, if you talk to the folks in the regions that already have LPFM stations, they say LPFMs have had a very positive impact. They provide programs that reflect and enrich local cultures. I know the FCC has been working hard to implement my legislation to expand the number of these stations, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming LPFM licensing window so we can have many more of them.”

RBR-TVBR observation: It is remotely possible that there may be a niche station here or there that may have a small bite taken out of it by an LPFM station – but if a professional broadcast operation can’t handle the competition from a 100 Watt shoestring operation, perhaps that operator should be thinking about selling and moving into another line of work. Just saying.