FCC opens proceeding on LPFM


The 1/4/11 enactment of the Local Community Radio Act opened the door for the creation of a new wave of LPFM stations, and it also instructs the FCC to report within a year on the Act’s likely effect on full power incumbents. To that end, it is now soliciting comments from the public and interested parties.

The FCC quoted the Act, which instructs it to “conduct an economic study on the impact that low-power FM stations will have on full-service commercial FM stations” and report its findings to Congress.

“As a preliminary matter,” said FCC, “we seek public comment on the appropriate subject matter and scope of the study and report Congress has requested. In particular, the LCRA directs the Commission to study the economic impact that LPFM stations “will have” on full-service commercial FM station.” The FCC wants input on whether it should base its study on existing LPFM stations, despite Congress’s use of the future tense, or if it should produce a predictive report.

It said it plans to look at two specific metrics:

“(1) changes in audience ratings of full-service FM stations attributable to competition from LPFM stations and (2) changes in the advertising revenues of full-service FM stations attributable to the existence of LPFM stations. Full-service commercial FM stations derive the vast majority of their earnings from advertising, which in turn is a function of their listenership. Accordingly, we believe that audience ratings and advertising revenues are the most relevant available indicators for evaluating changes in a commercial station’s economic performance.”

Although these are the metrics the FCC believes to be relevant, it said it also will accept comment on other metrics that should be considered.

The FCC will also look at geographical relationships, particularly when signals abut one another, or when an LPFM is completely within the contour of a full-power station. It will also look at it from the market angle, determining the economic effect an LPFM might have on full-power commercial stations in the same Arbitron-rated area, as reported by BIA.

It will also look at interference and interference remediation issues.

The proceeding is filed under MB Docket No. 11-83. Comments are due 6/24/11 and reply comments are due 7/25/11.