Wednesday, November 28, 2007

LPFM Rules!

I rarely cover current events but this is all too important to skip over.

Late last night after everyone sober or sane went to bed and there was no chance of seeing the handshakes or the duffel bags of cash but Kevin gave in. Maybe it was a token, maybe it was pure bribery, maybe it was an admission of his total loss of juice inside the beltway.

The room was mostly empty when the FCC voted for Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 07-204). The result was that LP radio would be allowed to survive and perhaps even to prosper. Commissioner Michael Copps said it "put low-power FM on a firmer foundation." I'm pleased, but I'm also suspicious. After half a century of aiding and abetting consolidation, in the same month that Martin spoke of permitting a satellite radio monopoly.. why this? I suspect that this is a token. We get LP but lose ownership limits. From the outside it's unclear.

Remember these are recommendations. Congress still hs to approve it. But here's the basics for all they are worth.

· Allows the transfer of LFPM licenses subject to significant

· Reinstates the Commission’s rule that all LPFM authorization
holders be local to the
community and limits ownership to one station per licensee.

· Clarifies that repetitious, automated programming does not meet the
local origination

· Encourages voluntary time-sharing agreements between applicants.

· Imposes an application cap on 2003 FM translator window filers.

· Limits the responsibility of LPFM stations to resolve interference
caused to subsequently authorized full-service stations.

· Establishes a procedural framework for considering short-spacing
waivers and a going- forward displacement policy for LPFM stations.
In the Second Notice of Proposed Rule-Making, the Commission:

· Seeks comment on technical rules that could potentially expand LPFM
licensing opportunities.

· Tentatively concludes that full service stations must provide
technical and financial assistance to LPFM stations when implementation of a full service station facility proposal would cause interference to an LPFM station.

. Tentatively concludes that the Commission should adopt a
contour-based protection methodology to expand LPFM licensing opportunities.

· Intends to address the issues in the FNPRM within 6 months, and
that the next filing window for a non-tabled aural licensed service will be for LPFM.

· Recommends to Congress that it remove the requirement that LPFM
stations protect full-power stations operating on third adjacent channels.

The application cap on 2003 FM translator window is really big. The religious sat casters have been flooding the FCC with literally tens of thousands of apps essentially overwhelming any attempt to monitor them. That may be over. If that actually happened, that could be the biggest filing change in decades.