WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to open the door for applications for 689 new FM radio stations across the nation, and officials predicted the decision would produce "a leap in the number of minority-owned FM facilities."
"We are taking a major step forward in providing more choice for the American public," FCC Chairman Mark S. Fowler said, explaining that preferences will be given to minority applicants and to owners of certain AM radio stations.
Thousands of applications for the new FM stations are anticipated, and the first station conceivably could be on the air as early as August, officials said. New stations will be available in 47 California communities, including Bakersfield, Chowchilla, Hanford, Lindsay, Modesto, Oxnard, Sacramento, Salinas, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sebastopol and Visalia.
The issue has been a contentious one because of the FCC's interest in giving some special preferences to owners of AM stations that operate primarily during daylight hours.