Petitioners hoping LPFM victory loosens translator applications


Broadcasters have long used FM translators and boosters to fill in coverage holes experienced by full power stations, and more recently, to help pick up slack for signal-challenged AM stations. Applications have been on hold since 2003 while the fate of LPFM service was being determined. Now that it is, translator applicants want to move forward on their proposed stations.

Attorney John Garziglia of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice filed with the Commission on behalf of a platoon of radio operators including The Cromwell Group, Inc. of Illinois, Hancock Communications, Inc., Two Petaz, Inc., WEJT, Inc., WHQQ, Inc., WLME, Inc., WSHY, Inc., WYCQ, Inc., Sierra Broadcasting Corporation, Kaskaskia Broadcasting, Inc., Virden Broadcasting Corp., East Kentucky Broadcasting Corporation, East Kentucky Radio Network, Inc., Milner Broadcasting Company, Priority Communications, Inc., Cool Radio, LLC, Carl Tutera, Philip H. Hayes, Bond Broadcasting, Inc., East Arkansas Broadcasters, Inc., and K95.5, Inc.

The petitioners noted that the law just passed gives equal footing to the three types of station, and notes that the FCC may proceed with approving translator and booster applications as long as it has determined that there will still be room in the community for LPFM service.

Garziglia refers the FCC to the following portion of the Local Community Radio Act: “The Federal Communications Commission, when licensing new FM translator stations, FM booster stations, and low-power FM stations, shall ensure that— (1) licenses are available to FM translator stations, FM booster stations, and low-power FM stations; (2) such decisions are made based on the needs of the local community; and (3) FM translator stations, FM booster stations, and low power FM stations remain equal in status and secondary to existing and modified full- service FM stations.”

FM translator applications have been lying dormant as part of Auction #83.

The petitioners suggested that there is likely room for LPFMs and translators/boosters in all but the top 10 Arbitron markets, and further argued that the cap on 10 translator applications was no longer justified, since the cap was put in place to save room for LPFM stations and the “ensured” availability of LPFM room renders the cap meaningless.