Washington D.C. The FCC
has voted to create a class of radio stations designed to serve very localized
communities or underrepresented groups within communities by authorizing two
new classes of noncommercial low power FM radio services (LPFM).
In authorizing the new services - (1) LP 100, with power from 50-100 watts and a service radius of about 3.5 miles; and (2) LP10, with power from 1-10 watts and a service radius of about 1 to 2 miles - the Commission said it is adopting interference protection requirements based on distance separation between stations to preserve the integrity and technical excellence of existing FM service and to not impede the ability of existing radio stations to transition to digital transmission capabilities.
The Commission said the new service would enhance community-oriented radio broadcasting. Broad national interest in LPFM service was demonstrated by the thousands of comments received from state and local government entities, religious groups, students, labor unions, community organizations, musicians, and others supporting the introduction of a new LPFM service.
The Commission said a noncommercial service will be the best way to bring additional diversity to radio broadcasting and serve local community needs in a focused manner with LPFM stations. Eligible licensees can be noncommercial government or private educational organizations, associations or entities; non-profit entities with educational purposes; or government or non-profit entities providing local public safety or transportation services. However, LPFM licenses will be awarded throughout the FM radio band and will not be limited to the channels reserved for use by noncommercial educational radio stations The Commission said that to further its goals of diversity and creating opportunities for new voices, no existing broadcaster or other media entity can have an ownership interest, or enter into any program or operating agreement, with any LPFM Station. In addition, to encourage locally originated programming, LPFM stations will be prohibited from operating as translators.
LPFM stations will be required to broadcast a minimum of 36 hours per week, the same requirement imposed on full power noncommercial educational licensees. They will be subject to statutory rules, such as sponsorship identification, political programming, prohibitions of airing obscene or indecent programming, and requirements to provide periodic call sign announcements, and will be required to participate in the national Emergency Alert System.
LPFM stations will not be subject to the FCC's main studio, ownership report and public file requirements. The Commission said it expects that the local nature of the LPFM service, coupled with the eligibility and selection criteria being adopted, will ensure that LPFM licensees will meet the needs and interests of their communities, and thus LPFM licensees will not be subject to a locally originated program requirement.
This is a shortened version of the FCC's statement. The full text can be viewed at www.fcc.gov/mmb/prd/lpfm along with more information on LPFM.