Arizona Daily Wildcat
Broadcasters worry about interference, FCC claims tests show otherwise
Even though the national and state broadcasters associations oppose Low-Power FM signals without further testing, KUAT supports KAMP student radio's desire to get such a signal.
"We support (KAMP's efforts); we're not in competition with KAMP," said Ed Kupperstein, station manager for KUAT Radio. " We'd like students to have that outlet."
KAMP student radio has never had a licensed signal, but it plans to apply for a Low-Power FM (LPFM) signal when the Federal Communications Commission allows stations in Arizona to apply.
"I'm really happy that (KUAT) is supporting us," said Mike Camarillo, KAMP adviser. "Low-Power FM will create opportunities for KAMP student radio to be heard by the community, and we will be providing the community a different, non-mainstream menu of music."
The Federal Communications Commission has grouped states and U.S. territories into five separate filing time periods in which stations from those areas can apply for LPFM. Stations from places like California, the District of Columbia, Nevada and Georgia have already applied for signals but have yet to hear a decision from the FCC.
Stations from Arizona were tentatively scheduled to apply in February along with Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont and West Virginia.
However, delays are likely, said FCC spokesman David Fiske.
LPFM has only up to a 3.5-mile signal radius and will strictly be used by non-profit localized stations. However, many high-powered FM broadcasters claim that LPFM could cause interference with their signals.
The Arizona Broadcasters Association, along with similar associations from all 49 other states, oppose the FCC's decision to push through with LPFM, said Art Brooks, president and CEO of Arizona's group. The state association represents 91 of the 120 radio stations in the state, most of which broadcast FM signals.
"We just didn't want all those signals interfering up and down the radio band," he said. "All that we ask is that they do some testing."
The Arizona group supports a legislative bill that would prevent the FCC from giving any licenses to LPFM applicants until adequate testing on interference is done, Brooks said.
The bill, which also has the support of the National Association of Broadcasters, has been passed in both chambers of Congress and is awaiting the President's signature.
The FCC has already done extensive testing on LPFM, but broadcasters disagree with the commission's results, Fiske said.
Even though LPFM may cause interference in some areas, it shouldn't be prohibited elsewhere, Fiske added. The FCC will take interference into consideration when making a decision on giving out LPFM licenses.
"There's a big political struggle, but I think more testing is a concern," Kupperstein said. "The dial is very crowded."
Camarillo said interpretation of the FCC's test's results depends on "which side of the fence you sit on." However, he added that if given a signal, the station would follow FCC guidelines and rules.
Despite opposition to Low-Power FM from high-power stations, KUAT supports KAMP radio's attempt to get a signal as long as the student station adheres to federal regulations.
"We've long been supportive of KAMP getting a signal," said Jack Parris, KUAT director and general manager. "It's in the best interest of the student body to get a student radio station."
KUAT broadcasts three radio signals. KUAT-FM 90.5 Mhz is a classical music station that has been broadcasting since 1975. KUAZ-FM 89.1 and AM 1550 simulcast its National Public Radio, news and jazz formats.
KUAZ-AM, which began in 1968, could only broadcast from sunrise to sunset because of FCC regulations, so it decided in 1992 to get FM signal to extend the its operation time.
"The real problem is that in Southern Arizona, there are no frequencies left," Parris said. "They're just going to be patient until more frequencies become available."
When it first started, in the late 1980s, KAMP did broadcast an unlicensed signal over AM 1570 but stopped when it began to interfere with KUAT's channel. Today, the station broadcasts on television channels 20 and 3 as well as through its Web site, kamp.arizona.edu.
Benjamin Kim can be reached at email@example.com.