Religious Groups Launch FM Translator Invasion

The FCC has received a deluge of applications for new FM translator stations. Figures released today indicate a total of 13,306 applications were filed for new translator stations during a filing window in March.
This is an unprecedented demand for new translator stations, and it represents a real threat to the expansion of the fledgling LPFM service. While the FCC expects to license only a few hundred new 100-watt community stations from the first batch of applicants, longer-term plans call for future LPFM license filing windows.
As there are only a finite number of open channels available, it appears that this mass filing is designed to snap up the vast majority of open frequencies nationwide where translator or LPFM stations might be sited. If the plan were to succeed, it would be as if someone slammed the door on any LPFM expansion – the FM dial would be jammed with translator stations.
There is definitely a “someone” behind this invasion; actually, there’s more than one. The preliminary analysis from hardcore FCC-watchers indicates that the bulk of the applications have come from religious broadcasting networks, who have already abused the FM translator system to build national chains of automated gospel repeaters. These same networks also hold a significant number of the new LPFM licenses as well.
There will most likely be a response from the small (but spunky and growing) LPFM community over this blatant spectrum land grab – in many ways a more nefarious attack on access to the airwaves than the National Association of Broadcasters/National Public Radio’s undermining of LPFM ever was.