Once more into the breach for the Prometheus Radio Project, visiting the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday and again urging the agency to allow for second adjacent frequency waivers for Low Power FM stations, similar to the Commission’s rules for FM translators. The big victory in 2011 was that Congress legalized licensing LPFMs on the third frequency notch near a full power radio station. But extending some of that largesse via waivers to the second notch would be a sweet deal, especially in license crowded urban areas where minority broadcasters want more access to their communities and relevant markets.
Speaking with FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Prometheus staffer Brandy Doyle:
. . . explained that current second-adjacent frequency restrictions keep LPFM stations out of urban areas because of lack of frequency space. Ms. Doyle also explained that there was no technical reason not to grant these waivers, as FM translators operating at higher power levels than LPFM stations already use second adjacent frequencies without incident. The same frequency rules that are already in place for these stations should be implemented for LPFM: if a station on a second-adjacent frequency will not interfere with an existing station, then the FCC should grant an LPFM license to a broadcaster for that frequency.
“Translators” are transmission towers that extend a full power radio station’s signal beyond its initial reach. Everybody has been guesstimating of late how many LPFMs will be available in various markets once the FCC opens a new application window. Prometheus has a zip code lookup program that can help you determine availabilities in your area. From the vantage point of my zip code in San Francisco, it appears that two are available, but only via FCC waivers. REC Networks calculates them at 96.1 FM and 96.9, presuming the dismissal of grid translator applications.
When is the FCC going to make this call? Prometheus reps told Commissioner Clyburn that they hoped relevant regulations “would be voted on [by the FCC] this fall and that the rules would provide sufficient time for community groups with limited resources to prepare their applications.”