North East RadioWatch: January 29, 1999

WNED Dumps AM Programming

by Scott Fybush

And finally this week, you didn't really think NERW would fail to comment on the FCC's historic decision to issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making for LPFM, did you?

We're pleased to see Bill Kennard and company taking action on this issue instead of emulating their predecessors and hoping it would go away. We like some of the aspects they're proposing, in particular the suggestion that LPFMs not be allowed to be owned or programmed by existing commercial broadcasters. But we're worried by a few other aspects, especially the "1000-watt" category that sounds more like a full-power station, the hesitation to move immediately on licensing stations under 100 watts, and the idea that as many as 10 LPFMs might be owned by the same individual.

And we're most concerned about a few things that were never mentioned at all -- specifically, the status of the existing translator service. In an ideal world, we'd like to see the FCC take seriously the "secondary" status of translators and allow them, especially the satellite-fed ones, to be bumped by LPFM. In the real world in which we're resigned to living, we'd at least settle for an immediate freeze on translator applications, followed by a ruling that new translator apps should be subject to the same ownership and control rules as LPFM, which would effectively kill any further growth of the "national translator networks" we've so often criticized in this space. Without such a move, we're afraid there simply won't be any spectrum available for an LPFM service to flourish.

Comments on this proposal will be due in April; rest assured that we'll be firing some off, and you'll read them here.

That's it for this week; next time, ratings for Watertown, Binghamton, Portland, and Lewiston-Auburn, plus all the week's news. See you Friday!

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