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Adding Local Voices to the Radio Airwaves

by: Bill Lake, Chief, Media Bureau

August 12, 2013 - 10:58 AM

The FCC recently announced that it will accept LPFM license applications between October 15, 2013 and October 29, 2013.  I am extremely excited about the new opportunities presented by the window, which is the result of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 and the work of the Commission to implement that legislation. 

As Acting FCC Chairwoman Clyburn recently said: “Local groups across the country will have a unique opportunity in October to apply for a license to provide LPFM radio broadcast services to their communities.”

The LPFM service was initially established in 2000 to create opportunities for new voices to be heard on the radio.  The FCC envisioned LPFM stations would serve very localized communities of underrepresented groups within those communities.  An LPFM station can be authorized to operate with up to 100 watts and will typically have a service radius of approximately three and one-half miles.  LPFM stations are available to local, nonprofit educational entities, Tribes, and public safety organizations, but are not available to individuals or for commercial operations.  LPFM stations are authorized for noncommercial educational broadcasting only, and LPFM licenses generally cannot own or have an interest in any other broadcast stations.

The October window is a “unique opportunity” to add new and local voices to the airwaves, especially since the last LPFM window was held over ten years ago.  The FCC is committed to creating a thriving LPFM service and is providing various tools and resources to assist in the application process.  For example, information regarding the application process can be found in the Public Notice announcing the window.  The LPFM channel finder can help applicants determine if a frequency is available at a specific site for a future LPFM station.  Additionally, we have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions.  FCC Audio Division staff also will host a webinar on August 20, 2013, to walk applicants through the application questions and the online filing system.  I hope that applicants will find our resources useful.  We plan to make Bureau staff available to assist potential applicants during the next several months. 

Since the initial LPFM window in 2000-2001, more than 800 LPFM stations have been licensed.  I am looking forward to seeing that number increased and introducing new voices to the airwaves!  Please stay tuned and check back for updates as well as plans for another webinar.

Updated: August 12, 2013 - 01:47 PM
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