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The 7 - Current Events & Politics - Low power FM and why it won't work
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Eddie Famous
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#1 Posted on 6.8.02 2105.12
Reposted on: 6.8.09 2106.11
I find it interesting if not pollyannaish that a lot of people think that small FM transmitters allotted to private citizens will actually improve diversity in local radio.

Years ago, the FCC opened up a boatload of larger FM licences to mostly medium-to-small size towns with the idea that the towns would get local "voices." What they ended up with is what are called "rimshot" stations, where larger broadcasters bought up the small town frequencies to try and get an audience in the nearest large market.

Instead of local "voices" we got "The Buzz" or "y97" and all-satellite formats.

So now the FCC tries to hand out little bitty stations for bid. Soon, though, they found out that many of them were being sought after by certain religious broadcasters (under various names) simply to relay their satellite network.

This, unfortunately is the future of Low Power FM. People might actually get licences, then get tired of spending money to play their favorite music and sell out to religious satellite services or, God forbid, the Calvary network (militias).

Please think about these things before putting all-out support for Low Power FM stations.
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bash91
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#2 Posted on 7.8.02 1305.59
Reposted on: 7.8.09 1308.23
Since I popped off about the FuCC and LPFM in a different thread, I'll take a shot at this one as well. In general, I'll agree with your take on the history of FCC licenses although it should be noted that rimshot stations were created because the FuCC strongly favored large broadcasters over more localized voices. Now, with the Clinton-era FuCC having removed most of the restrictions on multiple station ownership and the Bush FuCC prepared to remove the few remaining limitations on corporate ownership of multiple media formats in the same locale we get the situation where, IIRC, we have three companies controlling around 85% of the American broadcast system. Under those circumstances, I'd argue that LPFM was a good thing even if it only produced a very few new local voices and the rest of the licenses went to religious satellite broadcasters.
However, and here's the kicker, the current LPFM proposal actually allows the LPFM activists to own these licenses instead of attempting to prevent the people who are most interested in the issue from owning the licenses. Previously, there were a substantial number of those activists who could not get a license from the FuCC primarily due to having run unlicensed or pirate LPFM stations or because they were LPFM activists who had irritated the FuCC with their cries for LPFM. By the way, if you think I'm accusing the FuCC of being petty and vindictive, you'd be exactly correct. Under these new circumstances, I'm a lot more optimistic about LPFM than I was as little as three years ago.
Will there be licenses that end up in the hands of religious broadcasters? Yes. Will there be licenses that end up in the hands of the Calvary network? Yes. Is that going to be the majority of the new licenses? Almost assuredly not. Is handing out new LPFM licenses and at least offering the possibility of real local voices and broadcasting a good thing given the current system? Oh Hell Yes!
Given that it is probably impossible to get Clear Channel and their ilk off our radios, I can't help but think it is pollyannaish to not support LPFM and the possibility for real community radio.

Tim
Eddie Famous
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#3 Posted on 7.8.02 1522.50
Reposted on: 7.8.09 1529.02
The report that some 80 percent of Wisconsin's applications for LPFM stations were from Satellite broadcasters doesn't concern you then?

LPFM will not work because there is no money to be made from it. It will eventually become too expensive to run the stations legally.

If you want real community radio, support your local non-profits, get involved in them. Elsewise you are wasting your time.
bash91
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#4 Posted on 8.8.02 1003.03
Reposted on: 8.8.09 1013.18
"The report that some 80 percent of Wisconsin's applications for LPFM stations were from Satellite broadcasters doesn't concern you then?"

Actually, no, not in the least. Anybody can apply for a LPFM license, that doesn't mean you'll get that license. Since you cited to Wisconsin, I'll use that state for my argument as well. A quick check of the FCC website indicates that Wisconsin has 98 applications for a LPFM license that were deemed acceptable for filing. To date, 16 of those applications have resulted in construction permits for LPFM stations. Quckly scanning the permit holders leads me to believe that there are 2 definite satellite broadcasters, Calvary Chapels in Menomonie and Appleton, and may be as many as 7, assuming that every one of the religious institutions granted a permit is merely a front for a religious satellite broadcaster, which I don't believe. I can live with those odds. Plus, possesion of a construction permit doesn't absolutely mean that you will be granted a broadcast license since there is still room for appeal or objection by outside groups. For example, see http://www.current.org/tech/tech0207lpfm.html for a story about one group challenging the Calvary applications.

"LPFM will not work because there is no money to be made from it. It will eventually become too expensive to run the stations legally."

Maybe, maybe not. The Media Access Project estimates initial cost at under 10K. That isn't pocket change for most people, but it really isn't that hard to raise that kind of cash if you or your organization is dedicated. The annual upkeep for royalty payments, licensing fees, etc... runs between 1 and 5K for the average station. Again, not pocket change, but an amount that is easy to raise, particularly if you really are a local or community radio station. Yeah, maybe some of these stations will go under or will sell out, but I suspect a lot more of them than you think will survive and prosper.

"If you want real community radio, support your local non-profits, get involved in them. Elsewise you are wasting your time."

Sorry, no. At least if by local non-profits you mean my NPR satellite broadcaster or the local college station. That's exactly why LPFM is needed. Too many people don't have access to anything that resembles local radio. LPFM isn't a magical panacea that will give us the ideal public forum democracy and political communication theorists dream about in which to debate the important or not so important issues of the day, but it's a start and a hell of a lot better than what we have today.

Tim
Eddie Famous
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#5 Posted on 8.8.02 1603.33
Reposted on: 8.8.09 1608.49

    Originally posted by bash91[quotemidMaybe, maybe not. The Media Access Project estimates initial cost at under 10K. That isn't pocket change for most people, but it really isn't that hard to raise that kind of cash if you or your organization is dedicated. The annual upkeep for royalty payments, licensing fees, etc... runs between 1 and 5K for the average station. Again, not pocket change, but an amount that is easy to raise, particularly if you really are a local or community radio station. Yeah, maybe some of these stations will go under or will sell out, but I suspect a lot more of them than you think will survive and prosper


Sorry, Bash, but the MAP figures here are ridiculous. Add in electric bills, transmitter upkeep, proper antenna grounding and etc., and you are talking much much more money to run a decent station. If someone is willing to come up with about 50K a year of their own money for it, well good luck to them. Until they sell out. Satellite broadcasting is SOOOOO much cheaper.
bash91
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#6 Posted on 8.8.02 2012.24
Reposted on: 8.8.09 2013.17
"Sorry, Bash, but the MAP figures here are ridiculous. Add in electric bills, transmitter upkeep, proper antenna grounding and etc., and you are talking much much more money to run a decent station. If someone is willing to come up with about 50K a year of their own money for it, well good luck to them. Until they sell out. Satellite broadcasting is SOOOOO much cheaper."

Again, I'll have to disagree. 50K is a ridiculously high estimate for annual cost considering that we're talking about 10 to 100 watt stations here. At those outputs, transmitter upkeep is almost nonexistent. Electric bills won't be much more than your average household, if that high since you really don't need that much equipment to run a good LPFM. Hell, I know of at least three sources for a pirate 25 watt LPFM setup costing less than 1500$ and capable of running off a car battery for ease in avoiding the attention of the FuCC. Proper antenna grounding gets figured into construction costs and really is minimal when working with someone who knows what they are doing. If anything, the MAP figures for construction are for a really well equipped station rather than for the bare bones setup that is often associated with LPFM. Without a salaried staff, any LPFM that spends 50K a year in upkeep has somebody embezzling from them. As for being a satellite retransmitter being cheaper, I don't see how it can be substantially cheaper since they have the same on-the-ground costs as any other LPFM station and are looking at, in some cases, additional fees for the privilege of retransmitting copyrighted material.

Tim
Eddie Famous
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#7 Posted on 8.8.02 2122.00
Reposted on: 8.8.09 2124.07
Originally posted by bash91---"Again, I'll have to disagree. 50K is a ridiculously high estimate for annual cost considering that we're talking about 10 to 100 watt stations here. At those outputs, transmitter upkeep is almost nonexistent. Electric bills won't be much more than your average household, if that high since you really don't need that much equipment to run a good LPFM. Hell, I know of at least three sources for a pirate 25 watt LPFM setup costing less than 1500$ and capable of running off a car battery for ease in avoiding the attention of the FuCC."

+++Pirate radio stations do not need to meet FCC regulations for output and radiation, LPFMs do/will. Much more money in the long haul.

"As for being a satellite retransmitter being cheaper, I don't see how it can be substantially cheaper since they have the same on-the-ground costs as any other LPFM station and are looking at, in some cases, additional fees for the privilege of retransmitting copyrighted material."

+++Nope, most of the LPFM relays will be OWNED by the satellite broadcasters, therefore, no mikes, no studios, just a satellite dish, processor and transmitter. No copyright fees if you own the product. You don't even hear legal ID's on these things.

+++What they are finding in many of these applications is that the "applicant" is a front. For example, a certain "St. Olav Church" would get the license, then hand it over to Eternal Word network. Some individuals have openly stated they are applying only to rebroadcast such tripe as Brother Stair. In both of these cases, the "applicant" would be paid for the licence, plus a fee, then the REAL owners would go to work.

***BASH, OLD BEAN, IT APPEARS WE TWO ARE THE ONLY ONES CARING ABOUT THIS ISSUE. SO, THIS'LL BE MY LAST POST ON IT SO'S TO NOT WASTE ANYMORE OF THE SITE'S BANDWIDTH. FEEL FREE FOR A FINAL WORD OF YOUR OWN , BUT I'M OUT.



(edited by Eddie Famous on 8.8.02 1923)

(edited by Eddie Famous on 8.8.02 1952)
Mr. Heat Miser
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#8 Posted on 9.8.02 1347.59
Reposted on: 9.8.09 1351.39
Actually, Bash and Eddie, I was finding reading about it to be very interesting, but don't have anything useful to contribute - likely I'm not the only one, either.
bash91
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#9 Posted on 9.8.02 1416.32
Reposted on: 9.8.09 1421.24
Eddie, I think we'll just have to agree to disagree about the viability of LPFM and some of the costs associated with it. On that note, I'm out.

Tim
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