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Free Press: Low Power Radio Gets Boost from FCC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 28, 2007
5:01
PM

CONTACT: Free Press
Pete Tridish, Prometheus Radio Project,
215-727-9620 x 501

 
Low Power Radio Gets Boost from FCC
 

WASHINGTON - November 28 - Low Power radio stations were given a boost yesterday at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which passed a package of reforms to improve the rules which govern these small stations run by schools, churches, immigrant groups, local governments and neighborhood organizations.

The FCC order provided immediate relief on numerous longstanding administrative problems for these small stations. The actions also implemented short term fixes on major challenges for low power stations, and outlined remaining issues that will be resolved over the next 6 months.

Parul P. Desai, Associate Director of the Media Access Project, said “LPFM advocates have waited a long time for the Commission to act on expanding and preserving the LPFM service. The Commission’s action goes a long way in doing just that. Chairman Martin rarely agrees with us, but he was willing to listen, and to work with us to get a fine result. He should be congratulated for recognizing the critical service that LPFM stations provide to the needs of local communities and taking the necessary steps that will help bring more LPFM radio stations to communities throughout the country.”

The most important issue facing the Commission today was the question of how to set the priority between ‘translator’ stations — which repeat the signals of full power stations and extend the full power station’s coverage — and new LPFM applicants. The Commission limited translator applications from a recent filing opportunity in 2003 to 10 applications per entity, following evidence that a small number of companies had filed thousands of applications for these frequencies, which are the same scarce channels that can be used for LPFM stations.

The Commission will be taking more comment in order to find ways to balance the interests of these repeating stations and local groups seeking to use a single channel. The Commission also called for comment on use of more sophisticated engineering methods to allocate channels for the low power groups. “We believe that a creative solution can be found that will allow the reasonable use of translators, while preserving significant opportunity for community radio stations to be born. We appreciate the work of the FCC staff and Commissioners in making sure the future availability of channels for LPFM were not foreclosed today,” said Pete Tridish, Director of Electromagnetism at the Prometheus Radio Project.

Another key issue facing the Commission was how to protect low power stations under threat of losing their frequencies and broadcast coverage when full power stations encroach upon them. The FCC outlined plans that can immediately save some stations that were slated to lose their stations to full power stations that decided to move in to their communities. Many stations will not be able to benefit by the changes that the FCC made, however, and advocates have called on the FCC to continue searching for innovative solutions that can help low power stations to survive.

Quotes from key advocates involved in low power radio:

“The FCC has paved the way towards creating a real opportunity for hundreds of local churches, schools and community groups to access the public airwaves,” said Joseph Torres, government relations manager of Free Press. “These new rules are a tribute to the local radio activists across the country who have tirelessly fought to extend the benefits of LPFM to all communities.”

“Low power FM radio is one tool communities can use to connect to each other,” said Hannah Sassaman of Prometheus Radio Project. “We look forward to working alongside millions of Americans not just on community radio, but on the vital questions about who owns our television, broadcast, cable, and many other forms of media nationwide.”

“For nearly a decade, the Future of Music Coaltion has worked with our partners to expand and protect community radio because these live, local stations are the best (and often only) broadcast outlet for the independent music community,” said Michael Bracy, Policy Director of the Future of Music Coalition. “We applaud the FCC for moving ahead with this initiative and hope Congress soon adds to the effort by passing legislation that would bring LPFM into larger markets.”

“Congratulations to the Federal Communication Commission and Prometheus for their hard work in making this item a reality,” said Cheryl Leanza, Managing Director of the United Church of Christ Office of Communications, Inc. (UCC) “UCC is delighted that truly local radio stations and programming are getting a better shot at finding a home on the FM dial.”

“Low Power FM gives communities a voice in media without the obstruction of corporate interests. It is indeed a vital part of our democracy and we congratulate the FCC for their leadership in protecting and expanding it,” said Alex Nogales, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

“The action taken by the FCC yesterday will give hundreds of communities voice on the airwaves,” said Beth McConnell, Executive Director of the Media and Democracy Coalition. “Massive consolidation in radio has shut too many of those voices out, so this is a welcome step.”

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