WASHINGTON — More space on the FM dial is coming for low-power broadcasters, but demand for those new frequencies is expected to be very high, according to low-power advocates.
The FCC is targeting October 2013 to open a filing window for new LPFM licenses.
Low-power FM stations, which broadcast at a maximum of 100 watts and typically reach seven to 10 miles from the antenna, have until now been relegated to mostly rural locations. However, the commission believes that frequencies in urban areas will become available due to relaxed criteria for LPFMs seeking a waiver for second-adjacent channel spacing requirements and an interference remediation scheme.
According to FCC figures, there are 824 licensed LPFMs at present. Thousands of new LPFM stations are expected to be authorized as a result of the agency’s action in November, according to LPFM broadcast observers.
LPFM advocate Conexus expects 3,000 to 5,000 applicants will ask the FCC for LPFM licenses. Conexus bases its estimate on customer inquiries, Internet forum chatter and FCC comments concerning the latest Report and Order.