The Local Community Radio Act instructed the FCC to find space on the FM dial not only for low power FM stations, but also for FM translators, which beyond their intended use as boosters for FM stations have been increasingly in demand to help AM stations make their programming available to citizens. Members of Congress wrote to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski earlier this Fall to make sure that LPFM is nonetheless given particular attention.
John Yarmuth (D-KY), who was concerned about getting LPFM into Louisville, was one. “As the founder and former columnist of a local weekly independent newspaper, I know the importance of strong local media in our communities,” he wrote. “That is why I urge the Commission to utilize a methodology that more narrowly assesses the availability of low power FM in urban areas. I want my community, as well as other towns and cities across the country, to benefit from the ability of LPFM to connect and educate the public, provide rapid information during emergencies, and enhance cultural diversity.”
A similar message was sent Genachowski’s way by a group of Reps led by Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Lee Terry (R-NE). They wanted to make sure that LPFM is prominently considered while attempting to follow a balanced approach that also considers translator applications.
“To make the best use of the limited FM spectrum remaining in these more populous communities, we also urge the Commission to ensure that licenses are awarded to truly local churches, non-profit organizations, local governments, and schools,” they wrote. “These groups are ready to use local programming to serve the public, connect their communities, and enrich cultural life.”
The FCC has put forth a proposal that estimates the available slots for LPFMs and translators on a market-by-market basis and attempts to assure that a certain number of LPFMs are created based on market size. Creation of an actual program to award licenses remains pending.