In the news: Low power FM

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Non-profit low power FM advocate Prometheus Radio Project has long solicited funds in its battle to increase the number of LPFMs on the airwaves – now it’s looking for funds to plant LPFM seeds in the wake of its Senate victory. Meanwhile, an existing LPFM has been nailed by the FCC for a late-filed renewal application.


In our capacity as a trade journal, we received this modest request for funding from Prometheus: “This weekend, we passed the Local Community Act! Pop the champagne and set off the fireworks! This victory is the culmination of 10 years of grassroots and legislative work. Together, we did it. Thank you for all your support! Now is the time to start organizing to get radio stations in the hands of community groups across the country. Can you give $5 to help us launch the future of community radio? With your support, we can start the new year launching our plans to help a thousand transmitters bloom.

“Electromagnetically yours,

“Prometheus Radio Project”

As of Sunday morning, 12/26/10, the Local Community Radio Act had not been added to the White House of pending legislation in the hopper to be signed by President Obama. We’ll be keeping an eye out for its arrival there, and subsequent arrival on Obama’s Oval Office desk.

Meanwhile, Area Community Television, Inc., Licensee of LPFM Station WOOL-LP in Bellow Falls VT was hit for a $250 fine for getting its license renewal application in late. It was one of the soft failures – it missed the four-month-prior-to-expiration date of 12/1/05, but beat the actual 4/1/06 expiration date by almost a week.

The station paid the fine, but asked that it be cancelled and the payment refunded, because it timely did everything it needed to do to electronically apply for renewal in a timely manner except actually push the “send” button. ACTI pleaded inadvertence and low funding in its defense.

The FCC as usual held that inadvertence is no excuse. As for the funding plank of the defense, ACTI did not supply any of the usual financial documentation, and of course, the fact that it had actually paid the fine was a damning indication that it had the cash.

RBR-TVBR observation: ACTI was actually the beneficiary of a merciful FCC policy that holds low power stations and translators to a much lower punitive standard than their full-power colleagues. A full power station guilty of the same infraction under the same circumstances would likely have had to fork over $1.5K.