Alternative Media - Community, Low-power and Pirate Radio

Community, Low-power and Pirate Radio

In many countries around the world, specific categories of radio stations are licensed to provided targeted broadcasts to specific communities, including community radio and low-power FM (LPFM). Such stations typically broadcast with less wattage than commercial or public/state-run broadcasters, and are often non-commercial and non-profit in nature. In the United States, a special class of stations known as low-power FM (LPFM) stations were first authorized by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in January 2000. These stations are authorized to provide non-commercial, educational broadcasting and cannot operate with an effective radiated power of more than 100 watts. LPFM services were authorized to meet the increasing demand which existed in the United States for the creation of new, hyper-local radio outlets that would be grounded in their respective communities. The Prometheus Radio Project is a grassroots organization in the United States which advocates the establishment of LPFM stations and provides assistance to start-up LPFM stations.

In addition, non-commercial broadcasters in the United States are also afforded exclusive use of the FM spectrum between 88.1 and 91.9 megahertz. This portion of the dial includes some radio stations which could be classified as alternative media, including community-run and student-run radio stations, though there also exist many stations that are affiliated with large national broadcasters such as National Public Radio or large religious organizations.

Throughout the world, numerous other countries have also authorized community radio services, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Hungary, Ireland, Nepal, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, and many others. In many countries, including the United States, pirate radio stations also operate without any official license, in many cases providing programming to communities underserved by licensed broadcasters.

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