A check-in on low-power FM was on the FCC’s meeting agenda on Thursday, and the most important news is that the Commission is ready for the license filing window opening in just over two weeks. Parul Desai of the Commission’s Audio Bureau reported that “hundreds” of organizations have already started filling out Form 318 online.
Qualified applicants who face no competing applications for their desired frequency can expect to start receiving construction permits in 2014.
Ahead of LPFM the FCC had another item on its plate, needing to resolve a queue of applications for translator repeater stations, which compete for the same open spaces on the dial as LPFM. The Audio Division’s Chief of Engineering said that thousands of translator applications have been processed, and that in total about 1,700 construction permits will be granted.
Desai said about 4,000 translator applications were dismissed, leaving space for LPFM stations.
In a statement, FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said she is excited about “technical changes that will make FM frequencies available for the first time to nonprofit groups in most major metropolitan areas.” She explained that “the sustainability of the LPFM service is directly tied to its ability to attract listeners in our urban centers. Prospects appear good.”
Clyburn’s fellow Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel gave the Media Bureau “tremendous credit” for its work on LPFM so far. She continued, “Now, however, is showtime… So I hope our applicants show us in force how low power FM can become a more vibrant part of community broadcasting, a source of new content, a driver of new music, a platform for unique local news.”
Sole Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai said “I am optimistic that we will have a successful LPFM filing window that will enhance diversity and localism on the FM band. I encourage community organizations across the country to take advantage of this opportunity and look forward to hearing the programming they will produce in the years to come.”
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