What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

Rest unassured that Ted Turner, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, Conrad Black and all their Fortune 500 cronies are megawatt in every sense of the word.

Here’s the deal. The FCC usually needs you to operate at 6000W plus to broadcast as a legal radio station in the United States.  You can also score a Low Power FM (LPFM) licence, which start at 100W and can drill down as low as 10W, but the FCC and LPFM have always have had an iffy relationship.

Microradio movementists say the FCC is squashing free and local radio, limiting the reach of educational institutions, non-profits and related associations.  In keeping a tight reign on its interference regulations – no one radio station can be licensed for a frequency within 3 stops of another – critics say the FCC is relegating LPFM to the farmlands of Idaho where the airwaves have many more frequencies available than say, Boston or Philadelphia.

Read more about this on the FCC site here.  But first, leave a comment and tell us what you are thinking about right now.

Read more about a recent court case involving micro-radio.  Or Wikipedia it.

Over & out.

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3 thoughts on “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

  1. Hi, Erin,
    Thank you for posting about potential communication value of low-power FM. This can be a complex subject that can quickly devolve into a babble of techno-jargon.

    A couple of quick points: The FCC is not really the villian here. As the fine print in the articles you link to explains, the FCC tried to implement a set of LPFM licenses several years ago. They promptly got sued by bigfoot broadcasters, and lost in early rounds. Sadly many religious broadcasters and NPR joined in opposing the expansion of LPFM.

    Opponents argue that new LPFM licenses would create interference, but a technical study by the FCC clearly showed that those fears are exagerated. (Skeptics suggest that the real fear is audience fragmentation, not technical interference.)

    There is legislation in Congress to overcome these objections, but of course commercial broadcasters are among the wealthiest, most influential lobbyists who ever strolled through a marble corridor.

    If faith communties and groups like the WACC really want to influence the media environment, we’ll need to take a holistic look at all the new
    forms of communications technology, LPFM, public acess cable, and all forms of Internet media, from Twitter to YouTube and all points in between – – and at the policy issues that work in the background to promote or hinder their development.

  2. hey Bart! Thanks for this comment . . . I was kinda surprised at the challenges in researching this post. (In part because this author is a Canuck and things are, as always, binationaly different). It seemed like this is a pretty hot issue, as you point out, but that seriously objective information was hard to come by. Do you have any links to share? I’d like to read up some more. Thanks again for stopping by, eh?

  3. “Binationally different” . . what a great way to express the reality of trying to understand each other across that longest undefended border, etc.

    I started to collect a bunch of reference material for you, Erin, but I realized that I’d already done that. I think Canadians are a little more circumspect than the loud-talking types a bit further south, so if you’ll forgive me for tooting my own horn . . . I’ll offer you a link to an article I wrote a couple of years ago.

    It covers three or four relevant books, and plugs both the key organization (Free Press) and pleasant surprise, a plug for the WACC.

    The link is a bit cumbersome, so let me know if you have trouble. Good luck with your research . . . this is a critical, hot button issue, just as you say.

    http://www.esa-online.org/Images/mmDocument/PRISM%20Archive/Features%202008/SeptOct08CommunicationJustice.pdf

    – – Bart

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