Monday, December 20, 2010

[news] Low Power FM Wins the Battle of the Airwaves

New Bill Passes to Expand LPFM

While the big story this week in Congress was the repealing of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," another sweet bill was also passed with little publicity. After nearly a ten-year battle, Low Power FM (LPFM) radio stations have won a major victory to reclaim the airwaves, thanks to the Low Power Community Radio Act (S. 592).

What is LPFM? To clarify, they are any station, licensed with the FCC, to transmit at a lower power than commercial radio stations. These stations do not transmit as far (roughly 7 mile-radius) as the commercial stations, but they usually have content that supports local communities, artists, and independent musicians.

Ten years ago, LPFM was born; however, shortly afterward, big commercial radio stations helped to push through the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 2000. The number of LPFM stations was drastically reduced due to this bill, since it prevented any LPFM station from being within "three clicks" of a commercial station. Therefore, if a major station was broadcasting at 103.3, no LPFM station could use the airwaves between 102.7 and 104.1 since these are within the "three clicks" definition.

But now, because of the newly passed Low Power Community Radio Act, many independent radio stations, citizen organizations, non-profit organizations, churches, and colleges have the potential to take advantage of all the newly freed LPFM stations! Hopefully more KEXP-quality stations can exist under this new era of independent radio!