D. Noncommercial Nature of LPFM Service (72-75)

  1. In the Report and Order, we determined that only noncommercial educational entities would be eligible to hold LPFM licenses.  Skinner argues that restricting the service to noncommercial service reduces LPFM stations’ economic viability and eliminates a potential advertising medium for small businesses.[1]
  2. Our goals in establishing the LPFM service were to create opportunities for new voices on the airwaves and to allow local groups, including schools, churches, and other community-based organizations, to provide programming responsive to local community needs and interests.[2]  As discussed extensively in the Report and Order, although we considered the entrepreneurial opportunities a commercial LPFM service would create, we concluded that a noncommercial service would best serve the Commission’s goals in this proceeding.  Skinner has not persuaded us to alter that decision.
  3. Amherst Alliance requests that the Commission clarify that “entertainment”[3] programming can qualify as “educational” under the Commission’s rules.[4]  As discussed in the Report and Order, we have not required that programming be exclusively educational for an entity to qualify as an NCE entity eligible for non-commercial licenses.[5]   In 1998 the Commission stated with regard to full power NCE stations that “NCE stations must promote a primarily educational purpose and not air commercials.  Within those limits, there are many programming choices on NCE stations, such as instructional programs, programming selected by students, bible study, cultural programming, in-depth news coverage, and children’s programs such as Sesame Street that entertain as they teach.”[6]  We will apply the same standards we have applied to full power NCE stations to LPFM stations.
  4. Specific questions were raised as to whether Indian tribes may apply for LPFM stations, or whether only their educational institutions may apply.  As long as they meet the NCE criteria and other eligibility rules applicable to all applicants, Indian tribes may apply for LPFM construction permits.  We have granted NCE radio station licenses to Indian tribes and to educational institutions operated by Indian tribes and thus, this LPFM eligibility rule follows current policy.  We will apply the NCE criteria to Indian tribe applicants -- and all applicants -- in the same manner in LPFM as we have in the existing FM radio service. 

[1]              Skinner Petition at 7.

[2]              Report and Order at 2213, ¶ 17.

[3]              Amherst Alliance Petition at 9-11.

[4]              Report and Order, at 2213-14, ¶¶ 17-20.

[5]              Id. at 2214, ¶ 20 (“it is not necessary that the proposed programming be exclusively educational,” citing Memorandum Opinion and Order, In re Application of Lower Cape Communications, Inc., FCC 80-453, 47 RR 2d 1577, 1579 (1980)).

[6]              Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, In the Matter of Reexamination of the Comparative Standards for Noncommercial Educational Applicants, 13 FCC Rcd 21167, 21168 (n.2) (1998).