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Low-power radio timeline

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  1. Content Restrictions
From the Fall 2001 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 43.

From the Fall 2001 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 43.

1978 — The Federal Communications Commission discontinues licensing radio stations with less than 100 watts of power. The move marks the start of a more than two-decade ban on most low-power radio stations.

1996 — Congress approves and President Clinton signs into law the Telecommunications Reform Act, a measure designed to bolster communications technology, diversity and broadcast services. Within five years, the nation’s 10 largest media corporations more than doubled their share of the nation’s radio stations.

February 1998 — FCC opens public comments on a Florida broadcaster’s petition for a new low-power licensing plan. Eventually, the agency fields more than 13,000 inquiries about new stations.

Oct. 4 and 5, 1998 — Microradio activists gather in Washington, D.C., for a national conference to protest FCC policies governing low-power radio.

Jan. 28, 1999 — The FCC announces its intention to consider proposals for a new LPFM licensing policy. “We can create a whole new class of voices who can use the airwaves for their communities,” said FCC chairman William Kennard.

Jan. 20, 2000 — The FCC approves plan to create LPFM radio service, creating a service for 10- to 100-watt stations but requiring second adjacent channel restrictions, meaning that if a radio station exists on 91.5 FM, an LPFM could get on the air at 91.9 or 91.1 FM. The plan excludes former low-power broadcasters who failed to cease unlicensed broadcasts after Feb. 26, 1999, or when notified of their violation by the FCC.

Dec. 21, 2000 — Congress approves the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 2000 as a last-minute rider to a federal appropriations act. The new law required the FCC to revise its LPFM regulations to increase signal separation and conduct more testing on interference.

April 2, 2001 — The FCC finalizes its LPFM licensing policy, including modifications ordered by Congress. The new policy reduced the number of potential applicants by restoring the FCC’s original channel restrictions and automatically disqualifying anyone formerly engaged in unlicensed broadcasting from applying for a low-power radio license.

June 21, 2001 — KCJM-LP sparks to life at 107.9 FM in Alexandria, La., functioning as an instructional tool to teach high school and college students about operating a broadcast station. KCJM is the first FCC-licensed LPFM station to go on the air in more than 20 years.