The FCC released its first quarter radio station totals this week. And while the overall station count is up slightly in 2014, the number of LPFMs dipped two from the end of 2013.
On the surface this might not make sense given the 1,148 low-power station construction permits the FCC has issued this year. But keep in mind that in the eyes of the Commission a construction permit is not the same as a license. Think of these stations having learner’s permits rather than full driver’s licenses. That means we can expect the total number of licensed LPFMs to jump significantly in the next year.
Only 6 of those new construction permits were issued this week. As we’ve been observing for the last month, the rate of application approvals has slowed significantly from January and February, when the FCC was taking care of the singleton apps with the fewest complications. We’re still waiting for the FCC to deal with the vast majority of MX groups, with multiple applicants competing for one frequency.
NAB Panel Addresses LPFM Interference Concerns
The National Association of Broadcasters annual convention wrapped up today, but there wasn’t much heard about LPFM out of Las Vegas this week. The service did come up at the “Radio Renaissance” panel featuring the FCC’s Media Bureau Chief Peter Doyle.
Although the panel focused primarily on AM revitalization, broadcast attorneys Marissa Repp and Rebecca Rini doled out some advice on how broadcasters should deal with an LPFM suspected of operating out of spec. Repp and Rini recommended contacting the LPFM station first, rather than going straight to the FCC.
Doyle made it clear that there is a big difference between interference that results from improper operation, and that which might result from other factors. He noted that interference complaints to the FCC must come directly from a listener without any material interest in either station.
This exchange is a good reminder to new LPFMs that other broadcasters and some listeners will be paying extra close attention to your stations to make sure that your signal is clean and within the parameters of your license. Like it or not, there are some broadcasters who do not welcome all these new stations on the dial and who won’t hesitate to find reasons to make things difficult.
Especially for stations that are operating with 2nd adjacent waivers, it is well recommended to keep a close eye on your transmitters and make sure you’re operating completely within spec. You want to identify any potential problem and fix it before someone else finds it for you.