Low Power FM Radio
Low Power FM stations (LPFM) are community-based, non-commercial radio stations that operate at 100 watts or fewer. LPFM stations allow local broadcasters to serve their local communities. They address the interests of specific groups including neighborhoods, people of color, trade unions, and religious and linguistic communities, and provide a forum for news and debate about important local issues.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has long regarded expanding minority and female ownership in media as important goals because of the powerful role the media plays in the democratic process, as well as in shaping perceptions about who we are as individuals and as a nation. By providing community leaders the opportunity to have a voice on the public airwaves where no such opportunity previously existed, LPFM will help promote greater diversity on the public airwaves — diversity that is sorely lacking.
That’s why the success of community radio is important to the civil rights community, and why The Leadership Conference participated in a ten-year advocacy campaign that culminated in an important vote by the Federal Communications Commission on the largest expansion of community radio in U.S. history. The deadline for nonprofits to apply for thousands of new community radio stations will likely come as soon as this summer.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a new rule that will expand opportunities for local community radio stations to broadcast on FM airwaves in urban areas.
In an era of mass media consolidation, The Leadership Conference believes that it is important to preserve an avenue through which diverse viewpoints can be represented over the public airwaves, namely, low power radio (LPFM). Unfortunately, Congressional inaction is preventing this opportunity from being fully available to communities across the country. In this report, The Leadership Conference calls on Congress to lift its restrictions on the FCC’s authority to license LPFM. (April 2009)