A disparate group of 255 churches, schools and other local institutions spanning twenty states has been awarded licenses to broadcast low-power FM radio services by the Federal Communications Commission.

However, this number is less than half of the licenses that would have been scheduled had Congress not scaled back the programme following complaints by national broadcasters that the new stations would interfere with their own signals.

Consequently, many of the licenses have gone to organisations in sparsely populated areas, such as Sitka in Alaska where a parks commissioner has won the right to broadcast whale songs live to passers-by.

Despite the cut-back by Congress, FCC chairman William E Kennard remains confident that this is only the beginning for low-power local licenses: “Once the communities see the tremendous benefits that these first low-power stations provide, the program will surely grow,” he said.

California had the most successful applicants, with 54 licenses issued, followed by Michigan (24), Georgia (21), Illinois (20) and Alaska (19).

News source: New York Times