LPFM on next FCC open meeting agenda


The next get-together of the four FCC commissioners and the public is on the calendar for Tuesday 7/12/11, and the agenda will actually include an item of interest to the broadcast community – a plank that will look at new rules for the establishment of new low power FMs and FM translators.

In May the FCC opened the proceeding to commentary on a report it was ordered to write concerning the economic impact new LPFMs will have on existing full-power FM stations.

The item announcing the tentative July agenda states, “Low Power FM and FM Translator Stations Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: A Notice of Proposed Rule Making seeking comment on the impact of the Local Community Radio Act on the future licensing of low power FM and FM translator stations.”
The other two announced topics are cramming and E911.

Brandy Doyle of LPFM driving force Prometheus Radio Project, told RBR-TVBR, “We’re pleased that the FCC is moving to implement the Local Community Radio Act’s requirement that the agency ensure channels for low power radio. As the FCC strikes a balance between translators and low power stations, it’s critical that urban areas finally have access to community radio. This is why we worked to pass this law for the past decade.”

She added, “The FCC’s Future of Media report argues that low power can help increase diversity on the airwaves, but that can only happen if diverse communities gain access to this important resource. Fortunately, Congress gave the FCC a clear mandate in the law: ensure channels for low power, and base your policies on the needs of local communities. After ten years, urban communities (and the schools, churches, and non-profits that want to serve them) have waited long enough. We look forward to seeing how the proposed rules implement this mandate.”

The FCC earlier solicited comment on what it should include in its report. It asked about “(1) changes in audience ratings of full-service FM stations attributable to competition from LPFM stations and (2) changes in the advertising revenues of full-service FM stations attributable to the existence of LPFM stations. Full-service commercial FM stations derive the vast majority of their earnings from advertising, which in turn is a function of their listenership. Accordingly, we believe that audience ratings and advertising revenues are the most relevant available indicators for evaluating changes in a commercial station’s economic performance.”

RBR-TVBR observation: We have to say that any full power broadcast station that is sweating the economic impact of a 100 Watt non-commercial station should (a) be ashamed of itself; and (b) consider getting into a different business.

The more immediate concerns for broadcasters are interference issues and increased difficulty getting translators. Other than the potential for lost or unrealized revenue for those reasons, we don’t see LPFM as a serious economic threat to either commercial or full-power non-commercial broadcasting and welcome new truly local voices to the dial wherever they can find a viable niche.