LPFM on the tarmac


H.R. 6533 The Local Community Radio Act is now posted on the list of congressionally-approved legislation that is cleared to approach the runway. Destination: The big desk in the Oval Office where the President wields his bill-signing pen, where bills go to become laws.

The bill is among a number of legislative acts that have made it through the Capitol Hill gauntlet and are in line for signing. President Barack Obama is expected to gladly put his signature on LCRA.

The bill eliminates 3rd adjacent channel protection for incumbent FM stations, something the FCC says can be done without causing harmful interference. The bill easily made it through the respective congressional commerce committees with bipartisan support, but ran into a series of senatorial holds that disappeared after NAB-supported tweaks identified incumbents as providers of primary service in the FM band and added minimum distance separations to the equation.

RBR-TVBR has already begun fielding questions from citizens interested in starting up an LPFM. We are the wrong people to ask. Helpful information on starting up a station can be found at the website of Prometheus Radio Project, prometheusradio.org.

And here is what the FCC has to say about it:

NOTICE: THE FCC IS NOT ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR NEW LPFM BROADCAST STATIONS AT THE PRESENT TIME. Applications for new LPFM stations may only be filed during the dates specified for an application filing window. Applications received at other times will be returned without consideration. We cannot provide advance information as to when the next application filing window period may be, but when announcement is made, it will be posted on the Audio Division home page at http://www.fcc.gov/mb/audio/index.html#HEADLINES and on the LPFM main page at http://www.fcc.gov/mb/audio/lpfm/index.html.

Construction Costs. The FCC does not collect data concerning the costs of construction and equipment for LPFM stations, but the NTIA has posted a list of typical costs on its Public Telecommunications Facilites Program website. Costs can vary considerably from the listed values, so caution must be used in applying these estimates. Applicants and potential applicants should not purchase equipment before receiving a construction permit from the FCC lest they end up with equipment that they cannot resell or use, should the application for construction permit not be approved. Additional information about low power FM (LPFM) stations may be reviewed at http://www.fcc.gov/mb/audio/lpfm/index.html.

RBR-TVBR observation: For LPFM advocates looking to break into a small portion of the big time in the form of gaining access to large urban markets, an Obama autograph will mark the end of the beginning. Now the FCC will have to figure out where it can allot stations and determine who gets them. On short, urban area residents, don’t bother trying to tune in your brand new LPFM station just yet.