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Groups making post-shutdown plans for LPFM support

#LPFMThe government shutdown was the topic of our weekly email newsletter, the Radio Survivor Bulletin, this week. In it we touched on its effect on the upcoming low-power FM licensing window, as well as the impact on indecency and unlicensed broadcast enforcement. Here is an update on the LPFM front.

Four business days of government shutdown means that the FCC’s website and low-power FM resources, such as the online frequency finder and application form, have been offline, too. Understandably this is causing some anxiety amongst some groups hoping to apply for their own license during the window which is otherwise scheduled to open on October 15.

I contacted the LPFM advocacy groups Common Frequency and Prometheus Radio Project to get their perspective on the situation. They assured me that their support for LPFM applicants is continuing and they are planning to work with the FCC as soon as the shutdown is over to make sure applicants are not harmed by the effects of the shutdown.

Ahead of the the shutdown, Clay Leander, president of Common Frequency, said that on September 28 he spoke with FCC legal staff to express concerns of the probable shutdown with regard to the LPFM filing window, and to thank them for recognizing CF’s work at the September 26 open meeting.

“This past Wednesday,” he told me, “we joined a conference call and have had continual communications” with representatives of other groups active in LPFM, such as the National Association of Community Broadcasters, REC (Networks), Native Public Media, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the Alliance for Community Media, as well as Prometheus.

Leander explained that “The upshot is that our colleagues have agreed to have the three leading contributors to the 99–25 LPFM Docket–namely, Prometheus, Common Frequency and REC–to prepare a joint letter to the Commission requesting to explore with staff upon their return remaining options to either extend or move the LPFM window, preferably before the close of 2013.”

Prometheus policy director Sanjay Jolly said that “Once the shutdown is over we do plan to press the Commission to make fair accommodations to those applicants who may require additional time due to the shutdown. This might entail asking for a delay of the window.” He added that “the specifics depend on when the shutdown ends, where LPFM applicants are at that point and the (FCC’s) Audio Division’s capacity to get everything up and running.”

Leander said that because the groups were advised that paperwork submitted now during the shutdown is “piling up unread,” their letter “will be cued and sent immediately upon resumption of business.”

With the FCC’s own online LPFM tools and engineering databases inaccessible, Leander said CF will continue to prepare the technical portions of applications using professional and open source software tools. He also noted that REC Networks’ myLPFM tool is still available and being updated in light of the shutdown. Yet, Leander cautions that “we all depend on confirming the latest (and) greatest data from the FCC website,” in addition to elevation data from the US Geological Survey and flightpath data from the FAA.

At this point it is fair to assume that the shutdown will not stop the expansion of LPFM. It is also reasonable to believe that Commission officials share a good faith interest in seeing the LPFM window go smoothly and be as broadly accessible to qualifying community groups as possible. The question is really about how much delay there will be, and how much accommodation the FCC is able to make for the applicants who have not been able to use the Commission’s online tools.

We’ll keep you updated.



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9 Responses to Groups making post-shutdown plans for LPFM support

  1. John Broomall October 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    Christian Community Broadcasters (CCB) recommends that the LPFM open either as scheduled on October 15, if the Federal government shutdown has ended by then, or, if not, open the Window the day after the shut-down ends. In either case, the Window should be extended as many days as the shut-down lasts.

    This shutdown should not penalize the organizations that prepared and ready to file.

    John Broomall, Christian Community Broadcasters

    • Michael October 5, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

      How would those organizations be “penalized”? They wouldn’t be prevented from filing once a new window has been announced. It’s rather pathetic that a Christian group in particular is apparently trying to capitalize on the misfortune of others (an inability of potentially competing applicants to complete their applications as a result of the government shutdown) for its own benefit. That’s not very Christian of you.

      • John Broomall October 9, 2013 at 7:39 am #

        Michael, I apologize for a poor choice in words. I should have said “allow” rather than “penalize”.

        Any applicant that is ready should be allowed to file on October 15 (or when the FCC re-opens if that is later) AND the Window should be extended long enough so all interested parties can file.

        An extension will benefit our clients as well as everyone else. No prospective applicant should be “penalized” by the delay.

  2. Michi Eyre October 5, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Let me explain why the LPFM advocates (Prometheus, Common Frequency and REC) are supporting a delay from the reopening of government until the start of the window.

    First of all, on the first day of business, unless the FCC otherwise makes notice (like it did with the last shutdown), all filings that were due from October 1 through the the last day of the shutdown are due on first day of business. (In 1995, the FCC waived the Part 1 rule and made filings due on the second day). On October 1, radio renewal applications for Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and the CNMI were due. I believe we also have a closed Auction 83 window taking place during that time. The FCC is going to receive a huge backlog on the first and second days and for technical and administrative reasons, we should not overload CDBS with window filings when renewals are due.

    Second, the FCC has promoted LPFM as a “do it yourself” service, meaning you don’t have to use an engineer for most basic new CP filings. As a part of that DIY experience, the FCC provided their own Channel Finder as well as the other tools including AM query to look for nearby AM stations, TOWAIR to check to see if FAA notification is required and they link to the NADCON site at NOAA which assures that the correct NAD27 coordinates appear on the 318 form. Since October 1, these web services have been down. In addition, applicants are not able to access CDBS to “stage” their applications and check them for errors before filing.

    REC and the other LPFM advocates do feel that this extension is not only fair to those who are ready to go but also to those who’s ability to prepare their application was curtailed just two weeks before the start of the window.

    We want all applicants to have an equal opportunity to prepare for this once in a decade experience both those who are ready to go and those who are almost there. We support them all.

    Michi Eyre
    founder, REC Networks

    • John Broomall October 9, 2013 at 8:01 am #

      CCB works very closely with Michi Eyre of REC Networks and appreciates the hard work she all advocates of LPFM do to advance community radio.

      Everyone interested in LPFM is invited to guess how many applications will be filed in the Window. The person with the closest guess will win a Raduga Professional Radio Automation System. See http://www.ccBroadcasters.

      We are concerned about the settlement process among MX applicants. We applaud the FCC for seeking a replacement for its “non-sequential, non-renewal involuntary settlement process”. Unfortunately, some applicants might have been informally organized for years before their formal organizations and, because of this, lose to organizations that are no more qualified, but organized differently.

      The FCC does not require non-profit organizations to be incorporated but their system does favor applicants who were incorporated from the beginning. In fact, organizations who were formed for the purpose of applying have been dismissed, becaused they did not prove sufficient activity before the Window.

      Other than planning and preparation, what can such an organization do before a Window? It is illegal for them to broadcast without a license!

  3. Jim Harrison October 10, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    It grieves me to see organizations such as Christian Community Broadcasters (CCB) working to gobble up more frequencies for use by churches and other religious organizations that use our public airwaves for the purpose of proselytizing and fundraising. The noncommercial band is already littered with these self-serving radio stations, many that preach their own particular brand of intolerance and bigotry. I hope that most allocations for LPFM this time around will be granted to legitimate local organizations who wish to serve everyone in the community, irrespective of their religious beliefs.

    • Josh Overton October 14, 2013 at 10:16 am #

      It’s amazing how many try to gain advantage using the “Christian” moniker. It’s not enough that Calvary people filed over 3,000 applications last time around, and actually started over 800 stations. No, they want more. I believe greed is one of the seven deadly sins isn’t it? Our group has waited to open an account until the window opens, but has done preparations to file off line for the very purpose of evading the hounds of hell who call themselves Christians. We are not anti Christian at all, in fact we we are just a group of musicians promoting Jazz Music radio in area where there is none. However, we realize we have a Calvary group in our area that maintains they must have every frequency available in order to “serve the Lord.” Greed! We also do not have the ability to “guilt” every into contributing to our project. Fundraising is difficult for our limited audience because we can’t appeal to the broad community because it would alert the religi-whackos who would then pounce on our efforts. Ironically all of us are spiritual and have our own personal faith, we just don’t believe in the relgi-whacko, evangelical, greedy movement who think they are justified to push their own brand of Christianity down everyone’s throats through cheating, cheating, manipulating, spreading, and slathering their vast amounts ill gotten, collection plate, guilt money on their projects like butter. I don’t hate Christians, just their sins.

  4. Philip Goetz November 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    If an LPFM station is based at a church it is my hope that it will be open to the community to participate. Depending on the population of the area it isn’t just one pastor who broadcasts but all of them need to get on that one station, assuming one is available. Radio should not be done alone. Though I went so far as to complete a masters report trying to point out that religious stations are less local it just boils down to a community talking on the air, to and for each other. John Broomall has always been open to conversation and to moderating a forum. It has never been my impression that he wants LPFM stations to be in unmanned and in a closet just re-broadcasting someone’s webstream.

    http://www.lp-fm.org/research

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Groups request LPFM app extension from FCC due to gov't shutdown | Radio Survivor - October 17, 2013

    […] As they promised, a coalition of low-power community radio support groups submitted a filing with the FCC today, the Commission’s first day back at work after the government shutdown, addressing the LPFM licensing window that was originally scheduled to open this past Tuesday. That filing has already been posted to the FCC’s database and is available for viewing online. […]

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