WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a new rule that will expand opportunities for local community radio stations to broadcast on FM airwaves in urban areas.
The proposed rule will set a minimum number of low power FM (LPFM) channels that must be made available in a market area before additional licenses will be granted to other applicants.
Civil rights and community radio advocates welcomed the step taken by the FCC.
“Bringing low power radio to urban areas will help ensure that all segments of our society will have a voice on the public airwaves,” said Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “This is an important goal because of the powerful role the media plays in the democratic process, as well as in shaping perceptions about who we are as individuals and as a nation.”
LPFM stations have faced challenges gaining a foothold in urban areas due to restrictions imposed by Congress in 2000.
Community radio advocates and civil rights groups worked over the next decade to roll back the restrictions, culminating in the passage of the Local Community Radio Act in 2010.
“Today the FCC starts to redeem the promise made to thousands of community groups and national organizations that successfully fought to pass the Local Community Radio Act,” said Brandy Doyle, Policy Director at the Prometheus Radio Project. “The Act requires the FCC to ensure channels for low power stations, and we believe a market-specific solution could accomplish that.”