Ever since the passage of the Local Community Radio Act, the big question has been how the FCC will deal with its backlog of applications for translator repeater stations. Translators are low-power stations that may only rebroadcast the signal of an existing full-power station, and can be fit in many of the spaces on the dial that could also accommodate low-power FM community stations under the provisions of the Act.
The answer to that question may soon be on the horizon. The Commission has an item on the agenda for its July 12 open meeting that addresses the issue. Unfortunately there’s little indication as to what the exact decision at hand might be. The agenda only says we can expect a “Notice of Proposed Rule Making seeking comment on the impact of the Local Community Radio Act on the future licensing of low power FM and FM translator stations.”
LPFM advocates are certainly hoping that the Commission will propose opening up a new application window for low-power stations first, while those with translator applications in the queue are hoping to be dealt with first. I suspect that the FCC’s proposed rulemaking will try to find some middle ground, if that’s possible. In any event, there should be a public comment period following the announced proposal.