What is LPFM?
LPFM stands for Low Power FM radio broadcasting. In the United States, the lowest minimum wattage a licensed FM radio station may have is 100 watts. There are lower-power FM transmitters in use, though, by some stations who want to increase their coverage area by extending their signal. These are called translators or boosters.
While these may only have a wattage measured in a range from dozens to hundreds, they are not true broadcast stations by the FCC’s definitions – they do not originate their own programming. They rely on a “parent” station to provide what they air.
Ham (amateur) radio uses a similar system called a repeater; people don’t broadcast from it. They shoot a signal into it, and then it gets re-broadcast to an area larger than what ham operators might reach with their own gear. In a nutshell, translators and boosters are the repeaters of FM radio.
LPFM is the common term used to define an FM broadcast station that originates its own programming but has the power of a translator or booster. Under current FCC rules, operating such a station is simply not allowed. You may also see LPFM referred to by other terms – like “LPRS,” “microradio,” and “mini-FM,” but they all mean the same thing. Continue reading “The History of LPFM”
Finally, the Truthful Translations of Political Speech become useful for actual fact-checking purposes!
This week, John McCain was asked a provocative question by the editorial board of the Des Moines Register: why all the hate on taxpayer-funded health insurance proposals from a man who’s lived the majority of his entire adult life covered by government-funded and -administered healthcare systems?
Fortunately, the (non-)answer was caught on tape. But let me direct you to approximately 30 seconds into his response: Continue reading “McCain Flip-Flops on Astronaut Experience”
No, not the massive archive curated here: this boost is courtesy of Stephen Colbert’s “Make [John] McCain Exciting Challenge.” The Colbert Report uploaded footage of McCain standing behind a green screen, and then asked the public to make his speechifying more attention-grabbing through the magic of digital video editing technology. Continue reading “Truthful Translations Almost Go Mainstream”
Overlooked in the hurricane fury: this month Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the “Enhance and Protect Local Community Radio Act of 2005.” It’s a companion bill to Senator McCain and Leahy’s (R-AZ / D-VT) legislation, although it adds a substantial twist on the translator issue. Continue reading “LPFM Expansion Bill Introduced in House”
An interesting development on Capitol Hill seems to be stymieing the advancement of legislation to expand the LPFM service. Advocates have been working closely with congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) to craft a bill in the House of Representatives that would jibe with Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) Local Community Radio Act. The bill hasn’t been introduced yet because it needs demonstrable support from GOP representatives to be taken seriously, and no Republicans will co-sponsor the bill, although the ongoing grassroots recruitment effort is impressive.
Now comes a new complication: Slaughter has learned about the translator speculation and trafficking scheme that threatens to eat up space for new LPFM stations, and she’s pissed. So pissed, in fact, that she wants to include language in her LPFM bill that would deal with the translator issue pretty severely. The conventional wisdom suggests that the addition of such “polarizing” language – especially on an issue involving religious organizations – won’t help the effort to drum up GOP support for LPFM. Continue reading “Dueling Legislative Priorities: LPFM vs. Translator”
There’s lots of telecommunications-related legislation in the works this year, including a potential rewrite of the entire Telecommunications Act; a move to force broadcast television to make the break from analog to digital; and a bevy of bills that could fundamentally shift the way cable systems and phone companies are regulated and interact at the local level with the communities they serve. That’s why low power radio advocates think the timing is right to push for an expansion of LPFM via Congress: the stakes are so much higher on so many other issues that a chance exists to squeak through something positive.
In February, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced a bill to expand LPFM back out to the parameters the FCC had originally defined for the service in 2000. Before the end of the month a similar bill will be introduced in the House of Representatives, sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY). The bill was to drop on June 9th but lacked demonstrable Republican support. Without such backing any LPFM legislation in the House is all but DOA. Continue reading “LPFM on Capitol Hill”
The big day came and went Tuesday, much rhetoric was bandied about and even Mikey Powell said nice things about community radio (all of the other Commissioners, except Jonathan Adelstein, made appearances). The proceedings were webcast and the archive can be watched here (Real Player required).
Two panels were held: the first was basically made up of representatives of LPFM stations around the country who talked up the good work they do and diplomatically chastised the FCC for not expanding the service out to its full potential. Continue reading “LPFM Day Reviewed; KFAR Packs It In?”
First the news from Washington: John McCain’s bill to expand the FCC’s LPFM service cleared the Senate Commerce Committee yesterday, but not without some last-minute chicanery – an amendment has been added that exempts the state of New Jersey from any expansion (if it occurs).
Now it must clear the full Senate and House of Representatives, where the odds are not as good. However, Prometheus reports that some of the religious LPFMers are leaning on GOP congresscritters pretty hard, so there’s still some hope. Continue reading “FCC Gets Earful in Monterey; LPFM Bill Advances from Senate Committee”
On Friday Senator John McCain (R-AZ), along with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a bill to restore the FCC’s original vision of LPFM. My favorite line from the text of the legislation (S. 2505) is, “After years and the expenditure of $2,193,343 in taxpayer dollars to conduct [a study on interference involving LPFM stations], the broadcasters’ concerns were demonstrated to be unsubstantiated.”
Now we shall see if it moves. Promises kept in word are one thing; deeds are quite different, especially in D.C.
Yesterday the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing concerning competition in the telecommunications industries. All five members of the FCC were present and all were quizzed by the Senators on various issues, most of which dealt with the series of regulatory reviews curently underway at the agency.
The FCC’s review of media ownership reviews wasn’t the hottest topic of the hearing, but the subject did arise. During those brief moments some choice quotes were uttered.
The best came from FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who has clearly felt the sting from critics who decry his zeal for turning over regulatory functions to marketplace forces. In 1998, with the dot-com bubble in full bloom and radio consolidation in full swing, then-junior Commissioner Powell compared the idea of regulation in the public interest to modern art: “people see in it what they want to see. That may be a fine quality for art, but it is a bit of a problem when that quality exists in a legal standard.” Continue reading “FCC Grilled on the Hill: Going Through the Motions”