On January 20, 2000, the FCC adopted rules creating a new, low power FM radio (LPFM) service.

The new LPFM service has one class of LPFM radio stations with maximum power levels of 100 watts. This 100 watt station would reach an area with a radius of approximately three and a half miles.

These LPFM stations would operate throughout the FM band. The stations will be required to protect existing stations on the same (co-channel) channel, the next (first adjacent channel) channel, and the channel two channels away (second adjacent channel). In a change from general practice, the new stations will not be required to protect stations three channels away (third adjacent channel). For example, under rules applicable to existing full power stations where there is a station on 93.5, there is currently no station in the same geographic area on 93.7 (the first adjacent channel), 93.9 (the second adjacent channel) or 94.1 (the third adjacent channel). This new spacing criteria would allow a new, LPFM station to be licensed on the third adjacent channel, or 94.1.

FCC engineers have conducted extensive testing of these protection standards and found that under these new standards, every radio tested exceeded FCC interference criteria. FCC engineers have concluded that these protection standards will not produce unacceptable levels of interference with existing FM stations.

The new LPFM service will be exclusively noncommercial, there will be no commercial LPFM stations. In addition, current broadcast licensees or parties with interests in other media – cable or newspapers - will not be eligible for LPFM

LPFM stations will be licensed exclusively to local entities for the first two years of license availability. Later, however, non-local entities will be eligible for licenses. Each licensee may own only one station in any given community, however, eventually a licensee may own up to ten stations nationwide.

Licensees will be subject to the same character qualifications as are currently applied to full power licensees. Unauthorized broadcasters will be disqualified unless they certify that they ceased operations when notified of their
violation of FCC rules or by February 26, 1999.

If mutually exclusive applications are received for LPFM stations in a given city, mutual exclusivity will be resolved through the award of points for established local presence, proposed hours of service, or locally originated programming. The point system would encourage mutually exclusive applicants to share their stations with other applicants.