I was talking with my pal John Anderson earlier today about how relatively muted the reaction is to the FCC’s LPFM decision on Monday. We did get a statement from Prometheus Radio Project pretty quickly. But even today, three days later, there’s only a handful of hits on a google news search.
Perhaps the news seems anti-climactic compared to when the Local Community Radio Act was finally signed into law. Or maybe the details are too technical. I can say that it took me a couple of hours of close reading and re-reading to actually suss out all the details of the Commission’s orders. These were definitely a couple of the most dense and serpentine FCC docs I’ve tried to read in a while. However, you’d think that the LPFM vs. translator conflict would make a great lead for even a short mainstream press piece.
John’s take on the decision to limit a single entity to 50 translator repeater station applications, is that it “still represents a huge spectrum-grab.” John finds the “most troublesome aspect” to be the Commission’s suggestion to do away with the 10-watt level of service. I agree with home here, since these very low-power stations can fit into the densest urban areas, like Chicago and New York City, where it is highly unlikely a 100-watter will work, even under the new spacing rules.
REC Networks’s Michi Eyre, who was instrumental in informing the FCC’s method for insuring better urban coverage for LPFMs, has done a very thorough tear-down of the reports. In her initial comments she shares mine and John’s concern, urging the Commission not “to lose sight of the potential of a sub-100 watt LPFM service such as the current LP-10 service or a maximized alternative such as our proposed LP-FLEX service.”
The Raw Story strikes a less cautious tone, breathlessly declaring, “FCC decision strikes critical blow to right-wing radio dominance,” in their headline. The article backs up its claim by quoting Steven Renderos, national organizer with the Center for Media Justice, who says,
“So, what a lot of right-wing, conservative radio stations have been able to do is expand their reach out in communities by just having these translators out in the wild, which is why Rush Limbaugh gets the type of audience that he has — because the networks take one signal and repeat it over and over and over across the dial all over the country.”
Which leads Renderos to conclude that after the FCC’s ruling,
“Now these right-wing radio networks won’t keep getting their translator applications approved.”
Free Press’ Candace Clement clearly explains the point further, writing,
“Now that translator applications have been dismissed in cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver and Austin, locally produced radio finally has a shot at getting on the air. Thanks to the tireless lobbying of groups like the Prometheus Radio Project and the Media Access Project, local community radio has the potential to take root in dozens of new cities.”
Finally, Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Doyle, the chief sponsor of the LCRA, released a statement thanking the commissioners, observing that, “this moment is long overdue.” He then urges people “to get in touch with the FCC to find out more about the application process,” which is a subtle way of encouraging the Commission to get on with things, already. Amen.