LPFM Digital Radio Experiment
spent Saturday afternoon with Lyle Henry, who is "The Radio
Doctor." He is a big advocate of FMeXtra, which is the
alternate digital FM system that is available to broadcasters.
I have never checked to get an exact price. It is sold by
Bext, Energy Orix and Armstrong. There may be others as well.
When I first heard about the system, they were talking about $8500.
Somebody recently said it was $15,000. I don't know which is
accurate. Perhaps neither one.
has four types of supporters:
of LPFM stations are concerned they might lose everything because of
full-power encroachment. For them, second and third channel
displacement options offer more relief than Primary Status. If
Congress or the FCC granted Primary Status, it would not be
retroactive. The FCC would announce, for example, that
effective January 1, 2009, all applications, full and low power,
would be treated on a "first-come first-serve"
basis. This would mean that full powers would be filing for
minor mod upgrade through December 31, 2008
(2) LPFMers who wish to reach more people in the future are interested in more power, new coverage patterns, and ownership of multiple LPFM and/or translator stations. No one has suggested that current LPFMers be given priority rights over prospective rights. If present and prospect low power groups had more power and the right to own multiple stations this would create many new MX pools that would not be resolved for years. (Consider the massive MX mess created by the 2007 NCE window.)
(3) Prospective LPFM operators are competing for spectrum against all classes or current broadcasters plus all other "want-a-bees". These new groups will not be well represented and do not understand the LPFM regulatory challenges. Clearly the position of current operators is "me first." However, a sacrificial (or frustrated) current LPFM station can no longer be sold if it has not be in operation for three years.
(4) Social change media advocates like
Prometheus and Free Press oppose media consolidation and support
"localism." LPFM is just one of many options.
A community-oriented local AM could offer the diversity they
seek. Actually, if would appear that most LPFM broadcaster
would like to have a full power station. Thus it is surprising
that more LPFMers did not apply during the October 07 window.
(Possibly many did apply but used different names, making it
difficult to compile accurate statistics.
6/4 LPFM Industry Goals and
What do LPFM broadcasters want from the FCC? There are approximately 850 operating stations. CCB asked 92 members of its online discussion group their opinions concerning the LPFM industry. Thirty-two responded to date. 18 of these operate LPFM stations; 72% need more financial support, 40% need replacement / backup equipment and 35% need more volunteers.
81% view the future of LPFM as "fair to good." 77% believe the industry needs a professional trade organization / lobbyist, and 62% are willing to pay $100 to $150 per year dues. In addition to secular and Christian stations, 68% believe LPAM advocates should be included; 64% OK new entrant NCE groups. The top goals are Primary Status (82%) while "more power" was a distance second with 43%
While "more displacement options" gained less that 4% support, several members of the discussion group believe that lobbying Congress to get the Community Radio Act of 2007 (remove 3rd adjacent limitations) should have top priority because this is already being considered. Equally vocal members affirm that Primary Status should trump 3rd Adjacent.
At this point, we have no idea how much money can be raised or the cost of various proposed lobbying efforts for one or issues. Which is more "winnable"? Timing is critical. Democrats and Republicans agree - there will be new Senators, Representatives, and Commissioners next year.
(90% say the CCB discussion group is their number one source of LPFM information.)
6/2 Trade Organization
Planned for LPFM Operators
For years LPFM operators have discussed forming a new independent professional organization on LPFM discussion groups such as ccbroadcasters@Yahoogroups.com Currently I am conducting formal online survey of CCB clients and discussion group members. This survey will be expanded and all 850+ LPFM operators.
Many ideas have been suggested. One is that a database of LPFM information be formed that is more user-friendly than a blog. CCB will provide this service until the organization is founded and has its own website and database. The consensus is that the organization should be independent and not take a stand for - or against - programming (i.e. social and religious views aired).
Key questions have been
raised, "who should the organization serve?" and "How
should it be structured?" Options include:
As of today, 31 survey
results from members of the discussion group indicate:
Of 27 respondents (multiple
Based on my wording of the questions, several people opposed to a organization still voted on "who should the organization represent?"! Also, $100 was the typical answer concerning "annual dues." At this point, we have heard from only 31 of 850+ LPFM broadcasters
If the new organization were incorporated, significant funds would be needed to get started. Probably the cost of setting up a PAC would be even greater. Members would be frustrated if their money was spent on structure and nothing left for the mission. This would be like buying a new car and parking it because there was no money for insurance and gasoline!
Based on 27 responses, the top goals were "primary status" (82%), more power (44%), and the right to air commercials (33%). New NCE organizations have more power and primary status; LPAM does not exist. Would each of these subgroups approve their money being used to advance someone else's goals?
The "easy answer"" is to separately fund each goal or PAC. There might not be enough money raised to properly lobby for one objective, let alone several.
in a Name?
The ideal name does not need to include the words "low power" (if you want small NCE operators to join) and should not be confusing similar to other groups. What about Independent Broadcasters Association, National Community Broadcasters, National Community Radio Association, American Community Broadcasters, or even Community Communicators Coalition?
P.S. Let's now finalize the name of the group until we actually start it.