Reply Comments to the FCC Regarding Low Power Radio Service - 7/29/99

July 29, 1999

Before the FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION Washington D.C. 20554

In the Matter of Creation of a Low Power Radio Service

MM Docket No. 99-25

To: The Commission

Comments of the Prometheus Radio Project:

Table of contents

1. LPFM for Communities- Not Commercials.

2. No Micro-Empires: One License Per Licensee

3. Local Ownership is What LPFM Is All About!

4. Mandating Local Programming Is Necessary, And Does Not Constitute Regulation of Content.

5. Proposed Licensing System

6. Its Always More Complicated Than It Looks...

7. Competing Applications Are Best Avoided Through A Three Tiered Filing Window System

8. Licensing Should Be Affordable

9. Good Filters Make Good Neighbors: Loosening of Second and Third Adjacent Restrictions

10. Licensing Eligibility

11. The Impact Of LPFM Upon IBOC

12. The Future Is In Digital Bandwidth

13. Bandwidth Reductions

14. FM Translator Protections

15. You Can Not Buy The Earth, The Moon, The Stars- Or An LPFM License: Licenses For Broadcasting, Not For Speculation

16. It is Better To Receive Than To Give (Interference)

17. Spectrum Efficiency In Top Urban Markets

18. Mono Operation?

19. AM Broadcasters Should Not Be Eligible For LPFM Licenses, Conditional Upon Divestiture

20. Whats Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander - License Reapplications Should be Allowed, Full Power and Low Power, Or Neither

21. Some Of My Favorite Characters Are Pirates: Character Qualifications Related to Unlicensed Broadcasting Under the Old Regime Are Not Material in the New LPFM System

The Prometheus Radio Project is a group of former microbroadcasters and current media activists formed to provide technical, legal, and organizational support to community groups wishing to start a Low Power FM station. The group borrows its name from the Greek mythological character who disobeyed the gods in order to share the use of fire with humans. In this spirit, the Prometheus Radio Project seeks to help ordinary people reclaim the aether. To realize that goal, the members of the Prometheus Radio Project advocate that a Low Power FM service be created, with the particualar attention to the following concerns:

1. LPFM for Communities- Not Commercials.

We believe that the simplest, best, proposal for LPFM would be to create an exclusively non-commercial service. If the Commission insists on licensing commercial stations, they should be licensed last. The right of citizens to communicate is guaranteed by the Constitution, and the FCC is mandated to use the "least restrictive means available" when compelled by technical or other considerations to limit freedom of speech in the process of regulating radio. The right to make a buck on local radio, while perhaps important and commendable in creating economic opportunities, is not protected by the Constitution. It is of secondary concern, and should be accommodated only after a demands for non-commercial, community based radio service have been met. The difficult legal questions raised by the Congressional mandate for spectrum auctions all but dooms the potential for useful, community based commercial LPFM. It is deeply ironic that most existing full power licensees got their chunk of spectrum for free, while these new licensees (presumably smaller entities) would have to bid for theirs at auction. Worse yet, prospective non-commercial licensees that desire to apply for a frequency outside of the reserved band might be required to bid competitively with private, for profit interests. If there is commercial LPFM , it should only be licensed in the last filing window after non-commercial interests have been satisfied.

2. No Micro-Empires: One License Per Licensee

Each license holder should control no more than one station. We agree with the FCC staff that the relaxed ownership restrictions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 should not apply to the proposed LPFM service. We see no benefit to networks of micro stations with a single owner. Chairman Kennard has explicitly stated his concerns regarding the effects of consolidation of ownership on broadcast media. We share these concerns and see LPFM as an opportunity to create a service that will not suffer from these effects. It would be completely unacceptable if, for example, national chains of Tower Records or Wal-Mart low power radio emerged. We strongly commend the one to a market rule, and believe that even five stations owned nationally is four too many! We wish to see a service that insures the Commissions stated goal of bringing to the airwaves more of the voices that are rarely heard due to the current economic barriers to radio broadcasting, and not a service that recreates a situation for continued consolidation of ownership.

3. Local Ownership is What LPFM Is All About!

Licenses should be held locally, by organizations or individuals located within fifty miles of the broadcast area, with a preference for those inside the broadcasting contour. We are disappointed with the Commission staffs determinations on this issue in MM 99-25. We believe that the staff is mistaken in assuming that there will be only trifling local interest in the two smaller classes of stations- a residency certification is not administratively complex, and will have great benefits for the public. We also note that the local ownership restrictions will reduce the competition for licenses, making allocation choices simpler.

4. Mandating Local Programming Is Necessary, And Does Not Constitute Regulation of Content.

Stations should be locally programmed. No more than 20% of air time should come from off-site feeds or syndicated tapes. We feel that the bedrock value that the FM service was designed around, localism, has been undermined in recent years by changes in the broadcast industries. The formats of both commercial and non-commercial stations barely reflect the activities, interests and diversity of the listening community or "market." We see LPFM as an opportunity for people to hear news and music and other programming from people in their own cities, towns and neighborhoods- an opportunity which is currently unavailable. Regulation of content origination does have precedent at the Commission. Translator and booster stations are a good example of regulation of content origination. If the FCC can forbid local origination for one class of stations, it can certainly require it for another. It is not beyond the purview of FCC authority to mandate local origination regulations, and they are clearly in the public interest. The mechanism of such enforcement need not be unduly burdensome. The Commission can enforce this on a complaint driven basis with a simple certification by the licensee that they are in compliance with this rule. We do not believe that the occasional investigations this might require would be unduly burdensome, considering its utility in the Commissions stated goal of promoting localism.

5.Proposed Licensing System

Prometheus Radio Project most closely supports the excellent research of REC networks with regard to power levels for the new service. These proposals in their full form are in the REC comment before the commission- they are only summarized here.

CLASS A1 -1000w / 60m HAAT. 14.2km 60dBu protected contour. Must protect co-channel, first adjacent channel and second adjacent channels as well as the IF of full power stations. These not so low power FM stations would not be available within 100km of the top 100 media markets. Primary Status.

CLASS A2 - 250w / 40m HAAT. 8.2km 60dBu protected contour. Must protect co-channel, first adjacent channel and second adjacent channel as well as the IF of full power stations. These LPFM stations would not be available within 100km of the top 50 media markets. Primary Status.

CLASS A3 - 100w / 30m HAAT. 5.2km 60dBu protected contour. Must protect co-channel and first adjacent channels of full power stations. A3 is Classified as PRIMARY and it is only available WITHIN 100km of the top-50 media markets.

CLASS D1 - 100w / 30m HAAT. 5.2km 60dBu protected contour. Must protect co-channel and first adjacent channels of full power stations. D1 is classified as SECONDARY and is NOT available within 100km of the top-50 media markets.

CLASS D2 - 10w / 10m (just under 40 ft) HAAT *or* 1w / 30m HAAT 1.8km Protected contour. Must protect co-channel and first adjacent channels of full power stations. Secondary Status. No geographic restrictions on availability. In addition to channels 201-300 (88.1-107.9), 10 watt stations may also apply to operate on channels 198, 199 & 200 (87.5, 87.7 & 87.9) as long as interference to channel 6 is not an issue.

Channel 6 interference issues: A1 (1000W) and A2 (250W) stations operating on 98.5 must also protect the IF of channel 6's aural carrier. D2 (10W) stations operating on 87.5 & 87.9 must be located at least 138km from a TV Channel 6 full power station and 46km from a Ch.6 LPTV/Translator/Booster station. Stations on 87.7 must be spaced 200km from a full power and 89km from a LPTV/Translator/Booster. Stations operating on 87.9 must still provide proper protections to Stations operating on 88.1

We further support RECs proposals with regard to stations on 87.9, 87.7, and 87.5 RECs analysis shows the LP 1000 class to be a major spectrum hog in the top 100 media markets. While we see the need for LP1000s in rural areas to have reasonable coverage (cows do not listen to FM radio), in the most competitive media markets their coverage would be too preclusive of opportunities for a wide range of potential licensees.

6. It's Always More Complicated Than It Looks. . .

Problems, whether technical or otherwise, should be first referred to a local or regional voluntary micropower association for technical assistance or voluntary mediation. The FCC should be the forum of last resort. We are suggesting this based on the model utilized by ARRL and "ham" broadcasters. The models described by REC and the National Lawyers Guild Committee on Democratic Communications (NLG-CDC) are both informative of the shape of such an organization. Membership in these organizations should not be mandatory, but LPFM licensees' good faith participation in these associations should be strongly considered by FCC staff as indication of the licensee's readiness to co-operate with fellow licensees and avoid wasting the Commissions resources on issues that can be settled through informal, private self-governance and arbitration.

7. Competing Applications Are Best Avoided Through A Three Tiered Filing Window System

We believe that a key solution to the problems associated with the relative dearth of licenses available in major metropolitan markets is the concept of Public Access, modeled upon elements of the operations of cable TV public access channels. In light of the relatively small number of licenses which will be feasible in major metropolitan areas, the advantages of a strong preference for "Access" style operations are many. Instead of serving one interest, an access station serves all interests that feel the need to communicate, and presents the audience with hundreds of new programming options on a single channel. There are many individuals, organizations and interests in our society that would find communication through a weekly radio show useful and important, but for whom the actual independent operation of an entire station would be unfeasible. These interests are well served by access style radio stations. We believe that non-profit cable access organizations, a sector with over twenty years of experience administering public forums, are uniquely qualified to guide the way in the administration of this scarce resource in the public interest. If LPFM goes though without such a preference for the civic institutions devoted to freedom of communication, it is likely that the service that will emerge will merely serve the next few profitable demographics, rather than the entire civic culture. While we, in principle, have no objection to radio stations that serve one particular musical taste, religious grouping, or organization, the advantage of Access style operation of a radio station in a situation of spectrum scarcity is clear. We believe that the allocation of FM licenses should be decided through a two or three round system of filing windows. The first filing window, of six months, should be open only to non-profit organizations that file a certification with the FCC to operate a "Public Access" radio station. The licensee would be required to operate the radio station in accordance with principles generally analogous to the operations of Public Access Cable TV stations. If the Commission is interested, we can produce a sample certification document. Members of the public would have to be welcome to use the facility to create programming of interest to their neighborhood. A persistent, systemic pattern of denying citizens access would be ground for eliminating the preference and possible license revocation. It is important to realize that we propose that there be an opportunity for a number of such operations in each area. We do not believe that this will create a large enforcement burden on the Commission staff. The second filing window, also of six months, would be open to non-profit organizations such as schools, libraries, community organizations, labor unions, consumer groups and similar associations that are not willing to certify that their organization will operate in accordance with public access practices, but instead want to create a radio station geared to the interests of a particular constituency. The final filing window would be open to anyone else, including commercial interests if the Commission decided to license such operations. In regions where spectrum scarcity is not a serious issue (outside of the top one hundred media markets) a simplified version of the three filing window methods outlined above may be in order. Mutually exclusive applications in each window would be decided by lottery or a point system, with weighted preferences for organizations with boards that are 50% or more women, minority, gay and lesbian or disabled. We are torn between support for a very simple point system and a weighted lottery. We defer to the good judgement of others which system would result in a balance between simplicity and promoting the public interest in diversity. We generally support methodologies which give weight to Public Access operation, to serving undeserved populations, and to non-commercial, non-profit operation. However, we believe that points should probably be allocated in a different manner from full power stations to reflect the different goals of LPFM from the full power environment. We feel that it is important to note that factors for judging a good potential LPFM station are related to, but not identical to the factors for a good NCE-FM. The purposes of the services are in fact somewhat different. Our first priority is the licensing of community radio and Public Access style stations, stations where many different sorts of people can go for a weekly slot of airtime. If there is enough room, we'd like to see more stations licensed to high schools, clubs, particular ethnic groups and associations, non-profit organizations, tenants associations, labor unions etc. Criteria to judge such applications should not necessarily favor larger, more "legitimate" organizations- in fact, we think that it is important that there be broadcast voices for small, grassroots organizations which may seem less "legitimate" as well. The ability to innovate, to say unconventional or "crazy" things, to express unpopular or unusual opinions is the key to an open, free and dynamic society capable of meeting the challenges of the future. There should be LPFM of all stripes- the good, the bad, and the weird. Solutions to spectrum scarcity should focus upon time sharing and Public Access rather than auctions or lotteries. Instead of setting minimum hours, a station should be required to share its hours if it can not fill a reasonable amount.

8. Licensing Should Be Affordable

Licensing fees should be affordable to all communities. The FCC should maintain its policy in regards to free licensing for non-commercial channels. We see economic barriers as an impediment to community based broadcasting. We hope that the new service will not perpetuate these barriers by allowing only those with deep pockets to benefit from the creation of LPFM.

9. Good Filters Make Good Neighbors: Loosening of Second and Third Adjacent Restrictions

In response to the FCC request for research on receiver selectivity, Prometheus Radio Project was part of a consortium of LPFM advocates including the National Lawyers' Guild Committee on Democratic Communications (NLGCDC), Media Access Project, the Microradio Empowerment Coalition, and others. The study was conducted by Broadcast Signal Laboratories;LLP of Massachussetts. Our conclusions drawn from the study suggest that second and third adjacent protections are not necessary for LP10 and LP100 stations. The full text of the study is an exhibit in the NLGCDC comments on MM 99-25. Prometheus Radio Project and NLGCDC co-wrote the technical comments that have been presented in the NLGCDC filing. Rather than duplicate these here, we refer you to that filing for our position on technical feasibility of the new service. Second and third adjacent restrictions should be eased for LPFM only, not for incumbent broadcasters. We commend the FCC for its recommendation to this effect.

10. Licensing Eligibility

Licensees should be unincorporated associations (not businesses) or non- profit organizations. Financial stability regulations would not really be appropriate for this class of license. While financial stability regulations serve some purpose in larger organizations that operate full power NCE-FM, LPFM should be operable on a low budget, allowing a more home-spun atmosphere.

11. The Impact Of LPFM Upon IBOC

The impact of LPFM upon IBOC will be negligible. USADR has recommended that the implementation of low power FM be delayed until IBOC has already been established, so that interference tests can be made. We believe that digital radio's implementation should be delayed until its interference with an established low power fm service can be measured. However, it seems clear from their comments that low power FM and IBOC should be no less compatible than IBOC's implementation with grandfathered short-spaced stations. Page 62 of the USADR petition claims that: "Since there is no direct overlap of energy between the desired digital signal and second-adjacent signals...the effect of [this] ... interference is minimal." USADR can not have it both ways- assuring us that it is technically compatible with today's broadcast system (which includes high power short spaced stations) and expressing concern about LPFM with vague, indeterminate worries about "future spectral integrity." We urge the Commission to delay approving IBOC's implementation until they confront the issue of compatibility with LPFM head on- let USADR make whatever tests they think they need to make, and state once and for all whether their proposal will interfere with the Commission's stated objective of developing broadcast opportunities for a wider class of Americans. The implementation of a practical LPFM system can not be held hostage to technical flexibility and indeterminacy on the part of those who already control too much of radio. Low power FM should not be considered as an afterthought, a secondary service or of tertiary importance. The issues of control and management of media, of localism in broadcasting, of the availability of public forums for all citizens are at the heart of our democratic system of governance in a way that 30dB of noise reduction never can be.

12. The Future Is In Digital Bandwidth

LPFM must be included in the digital future of radio. As a result of digital technology, bandwidth can be used more efficiently to allow many more new stations than have ever been possible in analog. Theoretically, using digital data compression methods, five stations can fit where one does now in analog. The spectrum scarcity which led the FCC to grant radio licenses to only a small number of companies should soon be a thing of the past. The Commission is legally bound to use the "least restrictive means available " when implementing regulations that will limit the free speech rights of citizens wanting to communicate through electronic media. The advent of digital technology presents us with a great challenge. Our regulatory framework for broadcasting was developed in the 1920's, before the transistor, the microprocessor or digital compression. Yet our regulatory framework still relies heavily on the notions that were implicit in the primitive state of technology at the birth of radio. Spectrum scarcity is still the rationale trotted out to defend the exclusive access to the airwaves enjoyed by the small class of people who currently hold licenses to broadcast. As has been noted by more than one Commissioner, the veneer on this rationale is wearing thin in today's technical context. Usable bandwidth is multiplying like rabbits. The heart of the issue is what to do with this cornucopia of spectrum- should we add more channels (and thus new competitors to the market), improve audio quality, or both? It would be interesting to see what the American public would choose if we were presented with the choice of having five times as many radio stations competing for our listening, or CD quality sound on the ones that they already have. We recommend that the FCC find independent data about what the American public really wants from radio before going ahead with a plan that ignores the potentialities for more channels. Obviously, more channels means lower market share for existing broadcasters. However, even the 1996 Telecommunications Act does not mandate that the FCC regulate in the interest of the profit margins of existing broadcasters but rather mandates that the FCC regulate in the public interest. It is our understanding that the difference in quality between current analog broadcasting and IBOC broadcasting is a function of the lower level of background noise. The standard level of signal to noise ratio today is 60dB- with digital broadcasting, it may be 90dB. While improvements are always welcome, most radio listeners today listen at work, or in their car, where ambient noise levels make such a difference unnoticeable. On the other hand, radio audiences have steadily been declining over the past several years. Thousands of individuals have risked severe fines and prison in order to diversify the options that are available on the radio dial. It is at least worth asking whether a plan that maintains the interests of the current players in the marketplace is truly serving the public's needs. The current USADR IBOC proposal for a digital radio service is severely flawed; the proposal should not go forward until it is re-engineered to create room for at least thirty new local microbroadcasters, even in the most congested urban markets. If USADR can not figure out a way to do it there are certainly other options besides USADR. There is no technical reason why digital should not allow for more channels- the only thing preventing this is the desire of existing broadcasters to maintain their stranglehold on the market and their fear of competition. It is the Commissions responsibility to utilize this new technology such that it benefits the public interest, not incumbent profit margins. Several engineers and commenters have put forward ideas of intelligent alternative spectrum allocations for digital radio. We heartily encourage the Commission to give these ideas strong consideration.,

13. Bandwidth Reductions

We are currently investigating the implications of reduced bandwidth allocations for LPFM. As long as sufficient stereo operation is possible, this could be an option if it allows for more stations that would not otherwise be possible. We believe that subcarrier operation is unnecessary for Low Power FM, and could attract speculators in the market who have no real interest in LPFM besides the use of the valuable sideband data streams. We are concerned, however, about the mixing of technical standards and the need to gear up an industry to manufacture a whole new breed of transmitters. This could seriously delay implementation of the new service, which we believe would be in nobody's interest. Prices would probably initially be high for a new species of broadcast equipment, untested as yet with conventional receivers. Perhaps stations could be required to eventually upgrade their equipment if IBOC becomes a reality and significant harm is shown from second adjacent interference, either systemically or on a case by case basis. We do favor the availability of auxiliary frequencies for studio transmitter links, and similar ancillary services.

14. FM Translator Protections

Prometheus supports the REC proposal to distinguish between local and distant translators. A "distant translator" would be a translator that is located further than 400km from the originating station. A "proximate translator" is one within that 400km radius. The only translators we propose to protect are those that have a primary station that is within 400km of the translator. The only exception to the rule is in Alaska where all translators which have it's primary station also in Alaska will be protected. In the case of 'distant translators', we believe LPFM station should not be required to protect distant translators. Any LPFM should be primary with regard to distant translators. Existing proximate translators should be protected from interference by LPFMs. New proximate translators should be secondary with regard to LPFMs. This policy is proposed on the principle that a local signal should have priority over a distant signal. This is in keeping with the FCCs general policy of promoting localism in radio.

15. You Can Not Buy The Earth, The Moon, The Stars- Or An LPFM License: Licenses For Broadcasting, Not For Speculation

There should be no trafficking in construction permits or licenses. If a station fails to construct or operate their station in a reasonably timely fashion, the license should be voided and new applications accepted. We do not see any public benefit in allowing the purchase or sale of LPFM licenses- we would just as soon see the purchase and sale of individual citizens drivers licenses. LPFM operators should be able to sell their equipment, but not their license to operate.

16. It is Better To Receive Than To Give (Interference)

The FCC should create a hybrid status for LP100 stations. LP 100 stations should not be forced to change their operations to accommodate full power stations or LP1000s. However, they should be permitted to receive interference as per the standards for secondary services. We believe that this status should apply to LP10s, as well. The LP100 stations should be able to apply for frequencies where they will receive some interference, so long as they do not cause significantly greater interference to other stations.

17. Spectrum Efficiency In Top Urban Markets

We have not yet made a determination regarding the appropriateness of the use of minimum distance separation methodology, as opposed to a full blown contour prediction or point to point procedure. We are currently studying this important issue. We believe that a possible solution would be to use a minimum distance separation methodology for the microradio system in general, but a contour analysis or a point to point method for the 50 most congested urban areas. This would allow the convenience, efficiency and ease of filing for most of the country, while preserving the possibility of significant new broadcast opportunities in the urban areas, which are sorely in need of the new service. We believe that powers should be flexible up to 50 watts for the lowest (1-10 watt) tier of the LPFM service, based upon an engineering showing of some sort. We feel that it is important that LPFM stations be allowed to use directional antennas. This will complicate the distance separation method, but will be worthwhile for the new in terms of engineering flexibility and allowing for the greatest number of voices in the new service. Perhaps candidates should have an opportunity to meet and compare coverage notes, and assemble mutually beneficial plans before the FCC steps in. It is crucial that this methodology must be used from the start. If we start by peppering the dial with minimum distance separation stations, it will become difficult later to maximize efficiency of use through more strategic engineering methods.

18. Mono Operation?

We inquire of the Commission whether they intend to mandate stereo operation, or if mono operation (and thus, greater service area with lower power) will be permissible. How has this been integrated into the existing studies of spacing given as appendixes to MM 99-25? We encourage the Commission to allow stations to decide for themselves whether they prefer to operate in mono or stereo.

19. AM Broadcasters Should Not Be Eligible For LPFM Licenses, Conditional Upon Divestiture

We oppose the FCC proposal to allow applications for LPFM, contingent upon divestiture of AM stations. Since there are no ownership limits for AM stations, this would be an invitation for the large communications chains to buy up more AM staions as struggling AM operators turn to LPFM. This would produce no gains for broadcast ownership diversity and would merely allow for a shuffle of existing owners. If there are any preferences built into selection criteria, first time broadcast owners should receive preferences over former owners of other broadcast interests.

20. Whats Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander- License Reapplications Should Be Allowed In Both Full Power And Low Power Radio, Or Neither.

We believe the potential policy forbidding license re-applications would be a mistake. There are many other means (which the FCC has declined to act upon in its proposal) to ensure broadcast diversity before resorting to shuffling licenses around between entities. A good low power station should be allowed to operate as long as full power stations. If such a proposal were implemented, we would urge that it be extended to full power radio stations as well to promote diversity in that arena.

21. Some Of My Favorite Characters Are Pirates: Character Qualifications Related to Unlicensed Broadcasting Under the Old Regime Are Not Material in the New LPFM System

We feel that current and past microbroadcasters should not be penalized in any upcoming licensing system. Unlicensed broadcasters have been the leaders in the effort to bring national attention to the need for a LPFM radio service.They deserve at least equal opportunity in any new licensing system. The Commission has received thousands of inquiries yearly over the past 20 years in regards to low powered FM, yet it was not until there was organized national pressure from unlicensed microbroadcasters that the Commission responded with the current NPRM. If anything, these microradio pioneers have demonstrated exemplary character by their willingness to risk fines and jail for their commitment to community radio and public access to the airwaves. Additionally,microbroadcasters who have suffered government seizure of property and fines should receive amnesty and have their property returned or compensated for. This includes even those who have continued to broadcast after the issuance of the NPRM. Historically, it has often taken the Commission many years to make decisions important to citizen groups, while industry concerns are fast-tracked. We feel that those who have chosen to continue to engage in broadcasting have done so in order to continue to bring attention to the issue. As the readers of this are well aware, there are many potential ways that LPFM may not go forward, despite support from the public and even the Commission. A few determined Congressmen, at the behest of the incumbent broadcasters, could easily derail this proceeding. The courts may also be used to sabotage this process. The initial Commission NPRM had serious flaws that would have created a replication of the existing radio system, with all of its flaws, and little to promise in the way of access to ordinary citizens. For these reasons, we believe that the cut-off date for this amnesty should be the day that the first LPFM licenses are issued. Pirate broadcasters do exceptional service for their communities. There is no reason for them to go off the air until they are assured that a fair system for allocating frequencies is in place. Without the political pressure from pirates and their supporters, this rulemaking would never have happened. Furthermore, the application for a license by any so-called "pirate" broadcaster is an implicit show of good faith and confidence in an agency which has previously mistreated them. There are some pirates who do not recognize the authority of the Commission in the first place. (Most of these believe that regulation of intrastate commerce, and local radio broadcasting, is properly the domain of the state government of the state in which they reside.) These individuals will almost certainly not apply for a LPFM license, because they do not believe that the FCC has the right to issue such licenses. Thus, those who do apply for these licenses under LPFM implicitly recognize the authority of the Commission and are willing to work inside its rules, now that a reasonable opportunity for entrance into the nations radio system has been created. It becomes authority to realize its errors. Many pirate operators were actually refugees from the effects of consolidation of media ownership wrought by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Others were refugees from non-commercial educational stations. These have become increasingly difficult to license, and competition has become intense. The proliferation of pirate radio was a direct result of the FCCs policies, not a function of some personal character defect on the part of the thousands of operators that have emerged in the mid-nineties. Of the hundreds of pirates that we have come in contact with, we know of no professional criminals among their ranks. We contrast this with General Electric, which is a convicted corporate felon and the owner of NBC (Extra! November 1994 p.11; http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1254). The selective use of character qualifications to target radio pirates while white collar criminals go unpunished by the Commission would be a travesty of justice; a policy of selective enforcement of the Commissions rules regarding character qualifications may need to be brought to judicial venues for consideration. On a personal note, the primary author of these comments notes that he participated in the operation of an unlicensed station in 1996 and 1997, as have other members of the Prometheus Radio Project. These comments have attempted to squarely address the many considerations that the Commission faces in the implementation of a new LPFM service. As evidenced by the many comments of former microbroadcasters on these proceedings, it is clear that many radio pirates have demonstrated a willingness to play by a fair set of rules, once such rules come into existence. I have encountered few things in this world that were more bewildering and fickle than the political process inside the beltway. The Commission should be somewhat understanding of the ordinary citizens suspicions with regard to the efficacy of this highly delicate proceeding- many proceedings that were of great interest to citizens have taken decades to resolve, such as the childrens television proceeding. The Commission needs a truly clear slate to build the consensus necessary to create a healthy, vibrant new service.

Respectfully Subitted,

Pete triDish, and the Prometheus Radio Project