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About Low Power FM

Updated January 27, 2014

Summary

Low-Power FM (LPFM) is a class of non-commercial FM station intended for non-profit groups to create non-commercial stations that are both inexpensive to build and operate. Because of their low power levels they serve limited geographic areas and are ideal for serving small and underserved communities.

The second window to apply for an LPFM license closed on Friday, November 15, 2013. The FCC announced that 2,816 applications were filed during that window and that processing of those applications has begun. The Commission will address so-called “singleton” applications first. These are applications for which there are no other competitors for the same frequency.

Groups with singleton applications likely will hear from the FCC during the first quarter of 2014. The FCC has started to process these applications and application grants started to occur on January 15, 2014 and as of January 27, 2014, the FCC has granted more than 300 applications.

No additional LPFM license opportunities have been scheduled. It is not likely that a third LPFM window will be opened soon, if at all.

We have assembled this page to provide basic information about LPFM along with important news and background. It is not intended to be a comprehensive resource, but we hope it serves as a good starting point. Please don’t hesitate to email us with any questions you may have: editors@radiosurvivor.com.


Contents:

1. What is Low-Power FM (LPFM)?

2. How do I apply for an LPFM license?

3. How to get help applying for an LPFM license

4. LPFM Coverage Highlights from Radio Survivor

5. Additional LPFM Resources

1. What is Low-Power FM (LPFM)?

Low-power FM is a class of non-commercial broadcast radio service in the US created by the FCC to provide an inexpensive method for non-profit groups to get on the air. The service was established in 2000 after significant pressure and lobbying by advocates, including religious groups like the United Church of Christ, and media justice groups like the Prometheus Radio Project.

Thus far the FCC has only issued licenses for LPFM stations operating between 50 and 100 watts of power (LP100). Although the original order also contained a provision for lower-powered 10-watt stations (LP10), the FCC decided in 2013 that it would not offer this class of license after all, determining that such stations would not be economically sustainable.

2. How do I apply for an LPFM license?

To get a LPFM station a group must obtain a license from the FCC. Applications for licenses may only be submitted during “windows” scheduled by the Commission. The first LPFM licensing window occurred between May 2000 and May 2001, with each state assigned a one-month window in that period for submitted applications.

The second LPFM application window closed on November 15, 2013 and another window is not anticipated in the near future.

The following recommendations were made prior to the start of the 2013 licensing window, which we are keeping for reference purposes:
The first thing you will want to do is to find an open frequency in your area. You will have to tell the FCC what frequency you would like, and it must be available for an LPFM station. The FCC will not assign a frequency to you.

You can find a frequency using the free RFree software that will also allow the Prometheus Radio Project to assist you more easily, or you make a search online using REC Networks’ myLPFM tool.

Then you can view the archive of the FCC’s Aug. 20 webinar on how to apply for an LPFM license. Follow along with the PDF of Form 318.

3. How to get help applying for an LPFM license

Because the LPFM licensing window is closed, there is no help to obtain a new license at this time. The following recommendations were made prior to the start of the 2013 licensing window, which we are keeping for reference purposes:

LPFM stations were designed to be less expensive and easier to both obtain and operate than full-power stations. However, the process of applying for a license and building a station still require research, preparation and access to some radio engineering expertise. Several groups exist to assist non-profit groups in this process.

4. LPFM Coverage Highlights from Radio Survivor

All LPFM coverage on Radio Survivor

5. Additional LPFM Resources

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