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April 30. 2014 9:16PM

Manchester public TV station seeks radio license

MANCHESTER — The city's public television station is looking to take to the radio waves.

Manchester Public Television Service is seeking a low-power FM (LPFM) license from the Federal Communications Commission. The station is among about two dozen nonprofit groups across the state that have lined up for LPFM licenses since the agency opened up the application process for new community-oriented stations last fall.

The MPTS radio station would in large part air the audio component of what it now shows on its government and local affairs channels.

"It's a different avenue to broadcast meetings; people can listen to media, to sporting events," MPTS Executive Director Jason Cote said.

Cote said he anticipated there would be some original radio content, but this is still being discussed by the organization's board of directors.

"We're leaning more toward government and emergency programing and education. We're hoping to partner with UNH-Manchester and also to introduce a high school class for radio. This is all under discussion," he said.

Cote stressed that it was important for MPTS to seize the opportunity to get a license now since the FCC won't open the application window for another 10 years.

MPTS first submitted its application in November. One other organization in Manchester is seeking a license, the St. Joseph Catholic Family Center. The two Manchester applications are still under review.

MPTS had originally sought the frequency 95.1 FM.

Cote said MPTS is revising what it proposed in its original application. As outlined in its proposal to the FCC, the "MPTS Radio Project" was to include broadcasts of its local access television shows, including ones featuring the local political commentators Rich Girard and Joe Kelly Levasseur.

MPTS is now less inclined to air its local access TV content on the radio.

If it does win a license, MPTS would join two commercial radio stations in offering Manchester-centered coverage, WGIR-AM and WLMW-FM, which carries Girard's daily morning show.

In its original application, MPTS stated that its goal was to further "our current mission of participatory democracy, communication skill development and opening the doors of the city's governing process through media."

Low-power FM stations, with about 100 watts of power, are intended to have a signal range of about 3.5 miles, although an assortment of factors could make it heard beyond that distance. Major commercial stations often have power of 20,000 to 50,000 watts.

To win licenses in the current round, applicants must be nonprofit organizations, must meet the FCC guidelines to be considered locally controlled, cannot apply for multiple LPFM stations and cannot have an interest in a commercial broadcast station.

Elsewhere in the country, the latest round of LPFM licensing has led to a profusion of new programming, from church-based stations to ones showcasing local music. tsiefer@unionleader.com







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