Archive | low-power radio

Congressional Push to Restore LPFM

Free Press is running a campaign to restore LPFM by pressuring Congress to pass McCain’s pro-LPFM legislatin. They have an on-line petition and contact info for your Congresscritters.

Despite my disdain for lobby politics, I reckon this is worth doing, especially since only the NAB at this point is going to actively oppose LPFM. A strong public voice in favor, with little to no public opposition, should speak loudly to those representatives inclined to actually listent to their constituents.

I wrote both of my senators back in 2000 to urge them to support LPFM as the NAB lobbied hard to kill it. Sen. Dick Durbin was and has been a big supporter of LPFM, while Sen. Peter Fitzgerald said nothing substantial but signed onto a bill to kill it.

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McCain Tries to Restore LPFM

Yesterday Sen. McCain made good on an earlier promise to submit a bill to restore LPFM to the FCC’s original 2000 standards. The bill cites the FCC’s Mitre report, which soundly falsified the NAB’s contention that LPFM poses an interference threat to full-power stations, as justification for reversing Congress’ evisceration of LPFM back in 2000, which required LPFM stations to obey the same spacing requirements as full-power stations, operating with as much as 100 times more power.

If passed, this bill would probably allow for thousands more stations to go on the air, especially in urban areas–including the top 50 largest radio markets–where there are no frequencies available for full-power stations.

How successful this bill will be is subject to question. McCain is head of the Senate Commerce Committee, so it is virtually guaranteed that the bill will have a fair hearing in Committee, and probably on the Senate floor. I suspect it will have a better chance of passing the Senate than the House, since the House leadership, including Illinois’ own Denny Hastert, has been generally hostile to any bill challenging the ruling media hegemony.

Public pressure might be able to help push congresscritters to get behind this bill, especially since it will be very hard for the NAB to mount a believeable campaign against it. Supporting the bill would make a congressperson look like a champion of media democracy with little cost–arguably with less risk than supporting a reversal of the FCC’s media ownership rules changes.

It would be enormously helpful if the public-activism campaign that arouse to challenge the loosened media ownership rules could be mobilized to push LPFM.

Still, we shouldn’t be deluded — more low-power FM radio stations will not radically change the media landscape. The media giants, like Clear Channel, will continue to dominate the airwaves in most cities, and low-power stations will inevitably have to work hard to lure listeners, maintain funding and generally keep things going.

But each LPFM station is nevertheless another crack in the media monopoly pavement, and another opportunity to reach even just one more listener who is ready to have her mind opened a little. That makes it worth doing.

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