Our Issues

Many people know Prometheus for our work building radio stations or fighting in Congress to expand low power radio. In this section, we share a lesser-known side of our struggle to free the airwaves: the world of regulatory policy. In other words, the rules.

Rules about the airwaves (aka the radio spectrum) are set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is supposed to manage the radio spectrum as a public resource (just as other agencies manage other public resources, such as water or forests). The public can participate by commenting about proposed rules, or even proposing rules of our own. At Prometheus, we advocate for rules that allow greater access to the airwaves for those historically marginalized from media ownership. We think media should be controlled by communities, not corporations. We believe that communication is a fundamental right. Since so much communication relies on the radio spectrum (from radio to broadband to satellites), we see access to the spectrum as a right worth fighting for.

You can learn about our key regulatory issues in the menu on the right, or read below for the latest updates on our regulatory work.

Our Policy Updates

FCC Update: New rules and proposals to expand community radio

On March 19, we celebrated a policy victory when the FCC took two major actions to expand community radio. First, the agency announced rules to deal with a backlog of pending applications for translators (which repeat the signals of other stations). After nine years, the FCC is dismissing thousands of these applications to clear the airwaves for community radio! Second, the FCC released proposed rules for future Low Power FM (LPFM) stations, asking the public to comment on the proposals.

Both FCC actions have big implications for community stations, so we break down all the wonky details on translators and share our best guess on an application window timeline here.

March 29, 2012

What are translators, and what do they have to do with community radio?

FCC Decision Opens Radio Airwaves for Communities Nationwide
New rules create opportunities for hundreds of new community radio stations

March 19, 2012

Washington, DC-- In a victory for communities nationwide, today the Federal Communications Commission announced that the agency will open the airwaves for community radio. To make room for a new wave of local stations, the FCC will clear a backlog of over six thousand pending applications for FM translators, which are repeater stations that rebroadcast distant radio stations. The decision will allow for the first new urban community radio stations in decades.

"Today the FCC has opened the door for communities to use their own local airwaves, and that will be transformative," said Brandy Doyle, Policy Director for the Prometheus Radio Project. "We commend the Commission staff for the care and diligence they have shown. We also wish to thank Chairman Genachowski, Commissioner McDowell, and particularly Commissioner Clyburn and her hardworking staff for their efforts on behalf of communities."

The announcement concludes the first hurdle in implementing the Local Community Radio Act, passed by Congress in 2010 after a decade-long grassroots campaign. The FCC is on track to accept applications for new Low Power FM (LPFM) stations nationwide as early as Fall 2012. Community groups are gearing up to apply for the licenses, which will be available only to locally-based non-profit organizations.

When the FCC asked the public to comment on a plan to reserve channels for low power radio in urban areas, the response was loud and clear: We need more community radio, in all of our cities and towns. 

In July, the FCC released a proposal to save channels for community radio, and they are asking for the public to comment.