Over the last year, we’ve watched with excitement as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted new construction permits for over 1500 new low-power FM (LPFM) radio stations across the country. These new stations are claiming space on the public airwaves to better represent the full diversity of American voices, and include stations run by community groups, activists, churches, labor unions, and college students. These stations may only have a range of a few miles, but their impact on their local communities, including musicians, can be immense.
Now, some community radio advocates have asked the FCC to allow these stations to expand their reach. A petition currently under consideration at the Commission would create provisions for LPFM stations that meet certain criteria to broadcast at 250 watts rather than just 100, thus expanding their geographic reach and allowing more listeners the chance to tune in.
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a public notice announcing a filing window for applications for new low power FM (LPFM) radio stations. LPFMs are community-based, non-commercial radio stations that operate at 100 watts or less and reach a radius of 3 to 7 miles (check out our LPFM fact sheet for more info).
These small but mighty stations are an alternative to broadcasters that seem to play the same five songs on infinite repeat, and provide opportunities for local and niche artists to recieve airplay. LPFMs also offer a wide variety of small, independent organizations — including schools, civic groups, churches, and non-profits — a platform from which to engage with local communities.
The new low power application has a few important changes from the past. First, new stations will be permitted in urban areas for the first time ever. As long as an applicant can prove that their station would cause no harmful interference, the FCC will grant a special waiver. This new change will double or triple the number of new stations available, and it’s a major victory for Prometheus and our allies who fought for it.
Additionally, the FCC will offer special incentives to stations that provide local programming, and who maintain publicly accessible studios — a focus on community-driven broadcasting that we can really get behind.
Are you ready to change the media landscape in this country? Do you want to start a radio station or know some groups who might? If so, you can help spread the word about community radio! As early as next year, there will be a unique opportunity to apply for thousands of new Low Power FM (LPFM) community radio licenses. These non-commercial stations have the potential to broadcast local news, independent music and arts, and other diverse programming not heard on commercial radio. read more
The Future of Music Coalition applauds the Third Circuit
Court of Appeals for rejecting FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s attempts
to eliminate many of the longstanding media ownership rules that ensure localism, competition and diversity. read more