The Federal Communications Commission has unanimously passed a Fifth Order updating rules and establishing a filing window for Low Power FM applications: October 2013. One hopes that these will be the last regulations needed, but since the process has gone through five iterations, you never know. In any event, we’ve been live blogging the meeting, which concluded with a five to zero passage of the new regulations. It is the biggest opportunity for Low Power FM applicants in 12 years.
The fine print hasn’t been released, but the rules include some kind of provision for second adjacent waivers for LPFMs. That means that applicants who want to park two full notches away from a full power FM station could win the bid if they can demonstrate non-interference. The new rules also establish bidding points for new applicants and those who pledge to run more local programming.
The two Representatives who pushed LPFM reform through the House of Representatives were at the event: representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Lee Terry (R-NE). They and the commissioners disclosed their hitherto unknown passions for local radio. Terry talked about jazz radio in Omaha. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn mentioned Gullah radio in South Carolina. Ajit Pai mentioned Chinese LPFM in Manhattan, Kansas.
And FCC Chair Julius Genachowski confessed that he used to deejay at a college radio station in New York City. He was the “midnight rambler” . . . who knew?
This was all sweet news for the Prometheus Radio project, which has championed LPFM for years and shepherded many applicants through the process. “Thanks to the significant step forward today, we will see a wave of new radio stations that better reflects the diversity of our country,” declared Prometheus’ Brandy Doyle in a press release sent to us.
Already non-profits in various cities are mobilizing to help applicants. Here is news of a seminar for LPFM bidders in Seattle produced by Brown Paper Tickets. Expect plenty of these in most big and medium market areas in the United States. If you are thinking about applying for a LPFM, you need to move into the action stage soon. October 15, 2013, the specific date mentioned at the meeting, is only ten months away.