The Battle for Translators – Low Power FM

As the FCC ramps up to open the first Low-Power FM radio station licensing window in several years, LPFM advocates are asking the Commission to consider making a window for translator licenses exclusively for non-commercial licensees.

Translators enable radio stations to broadcast at greater distances and help to circumvent geographic obstacles to radio waves, like mountains and tall buildings They are especially critical to low-power stations which work on small power allocations and often serve rural areas with rugged terrain.

But the open auction style of translator windows often has tiny non-commercial stations competing against large commercial broadcasters with far more resources – and they rarely win these head to head battles.

A solely-noncommercial translator window would allow small stations to request translators they need on a more equilateral basis and help provide the infrastructure needed for low-power radio to effectively fill news deserts and provide critical emergency broadcasting services in remote or otherwise underserved parts of the country.

Proceeding RM 11952 contemplates such an exclusive translator licensing window and many advocates have encouraged the FCC to move ahead.

Here is our letter to them:

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