STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER AJIT PAI
Creation of a Low Power Radio Service
, MM Docket No. 99-25, Fifth Order on
Reconsideration and Sixth Report and Order
In the Local Community Radio Act of 2010, Congress sought to expand low-power FM
while protecting the operations of full-power broadcasters. I commend Representatives Lee
Terry and Mike Doyle for their leadership in crafting this legislation. Because today's item
reasonably maintains the balance they and their colleagues struck in the Local Community Radio
Act, I am pleased to support it.
The rules that we adopt today will enable the development of new low-power FM
stations, which can play a critical role in advancing the Commission's diversity goals. To give
one example from my home state, there is currently a Chinese-language low-power FM station
on the air in Manhattan, Kansas. While you probably wouldn't be surprised to hear Chinese-
language radio stations on the air in the New York City borough of Manhattan (what we Kansans
refer to as "the other Manhattan"), the ability of a Chinese-language station to broadcast in the
hometown of Kansas State University is a testament to the unique benefits that the low-power
service can provide.
Perhaps the most contentious issue we face in today's item involves second-adjacent
channel waivers. The Local Community Radio Act makes clear that in order to receive such a
waiver, low-power FM applicants must show that their operations will not "result in interference
to any authorized radio service."1 That is the standard we codify in our rules today, and I am
supporting this item with every expectation that the Media Bureau will faithfully and firmly
One thing missing from these rules is a requirement that a low-power station seeking a
second-adjacent waiver serve its request on potentially affected FM stations. Such a requirement
would impose a minimal burden and would make it easier for those FM broadcasters to weigh in
early with any concerns. I nonetheless encourage low-power applicants and full-power
broadcasters to work together to address potential interference problems before
stations commence operations, and I hope the Media Bureau will alert full-power stations of
second-adjacent waiver requests that may affect their operations. Prolonged interference
disputes will not serve anyone's interests: not low-power operators, not full-power broadcasters,
and certainly not the listening public.
I would like to thank the Chairman and my colleagues for incorporating many of my
other suggestions into this item. For example, I am pleased that we are announcing October 15,
2013 as the target date when the low-power filing window will open. This will encourage
community organizations to begin preparing applications and allow them to engage in more
focused planning for establishing new low-power stations.
Two other aspects of today's order are notable. First, it resolves petitions for
reconsideration addressing thousands of pending Auction 83 FM translator applications. These
applications were filed way back in 2003, and it is time for the Commission to finish processing
1 Local Community Radio Act of 2010, 3(b)(2)(A).
Second, today's item raises the per-market translator cap and relaxes the national cap.
Raising the per-market cap from one translator to three will provide broadcasters a better
opportunity to extend their service across large metropolitan areas. Moreover, the national cap
of 50 translators would have forced broadcasters into choosing between more service for rural
America and more service in profitable urban areas. I am grateful to the floor for adopting my
suggestion and giving broadcasters the flexibility to pursue up to 70 applications so long as no
more than 50 are in the nation's largest markets. This change fulfills the purpose of section
307(b) of the Communications Act, which calls for us to "provide a fair, efficient, and equitable
distribution of radio service" among communities.
Finally, I would like to thank Peter Doyle, Tom Hutton, James Bradshaw, Heather Dixon,
and Kelly Donohue for their exemplary work on this item. The Bureau's Audio Division has
much work ahead of it to implement today's order, from processing thousands of pending
translator applications to addressing the large number of low-power applications I hope we will
soon receive. I am confident that the staff of the Audio Division will continue to discharge their
responsibilities in a manner that makes us all proud.