Much was made last year of the Local Community Radio Act’s passage in the House of Representatives. But since then, no news: what’s going on?
As you may have heard, most of the telecom-policy wonk-world is all agog with the FCC’s promulgation of a National Broadband Plan. Some have felt, since Chairman Julius Genachowski took the helm of the agency, that he’d be much more focused on “new” media than “old.” This seems to be playing itself out to some degree. Continue reading “LPFM: Thanks For The Memories?”
The first session of the 111th Congress is now in the bag, and with it – temporarily – the hopes of a restoration of the FCC’s low-power FM (LPFM) radio service to its original scale and scope as devised by the FCC in 2000.
The Local Community Radio Act passed the House, but never made it to the Senate floor for a vote. Fortunately, bills only die at the end of the Congressional year, not between sessions; meaning, theoretically, when the Senate reconvenes next month it could quickly hold a vote and send the bill to President Obama for signature. Continue reading “LPFM: Better Luck Next Year”
I was heartened to see that the requisite committees of the House of Representatives and Senate have both endorsed complementary bills that would expand the FCC’s low-power FM (LPFM) service toward votes on the floors of the respective chambers. Those working the issue in D.C. are very optimistic that Congress will pass both versions of the Local Community Radio Act, harmonize them, and send a version to President Obama by the end of this Congressional session.
But it’s not yet time to break out the champagne just yet. There are three reasons for this: Continue reading “LPFM's Elephant In the Room”
In a highly-symbolic yet positive move last week, all five Federal Communications Commissioners told a House oversight hearing on FCC policies whether or not they support the creation of new low-power FM (LPFM) radio stations. The answer was unanimous: “yes, we will.”
So, all that now needs to happen is for Congress to pass the long-languishing Local Community Radio Act (80 cosponsors in the House, and seven in the Senate at last count), and new LPFM stations will bloom like flowers in springtime, right? Continue reading “Congress Supports LPFM, But Will It Move The FCC?”
Late last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the National Association of Broadcasters’ appeal to have FCC-tweaks made over the years to the LPFM service thrown away. In a nutshell, the NAB claimed that the FCC’s moves to make LPFM stations more equal to others on the dial, and to provide remedial efforts in the case where an LPFM’s existence is in jeopardy by another (larger) station, overstepped the statutory bounds of the LPFM service as dictated by Congress in 2001.
In an 18-page ruling, the D.C. Circuit basically tells the NAB to stuff it: “Congress did not intend to restrain the Commission’s authority to respond to new circumstances potentially threatening LPFM stations other than with respect to third-adjacent channel minimum separation requirements.” Administratively, the Court could find no grounds to back the NAB’s objections. Radio World says the trade organization “is studying the decision and its options,” but the smart money is this horse is dead. Continue reading “LPFM: Offensive and Defensive Victories”
Somehow, it seemed just too good to be true. Touch FM‘s founder, Charles Clemons, has abandoned his cross-country trek to raise awareness of low-power FM and the plight of microradio stations engaged in electronic civil disobedience. A press release posted to the Walk For Power web site cites logistical reasons for having to abandon the journey; feats like these take planning and somewhat north of a pretty penny, as well as a network of helpful associates in-place before you begin.
Instead, says Clemons, “the road to L.A. is through Washington, D.C.,” and thus this past weekend he took again to the byways, to arrive in the nation’s capital on or around April 17. There, he will be greeted by the Prometheus Radio Project and Free Press, and will participate in a series of LPFM lobbying conferences and workshops later in the month. Continue reading “Walk For Power Short-Circuits”
Charles Clemons, Jr., proprietor of Touch 106.1 FM in Boston, has begun his six-month stroll. Taking a page from Granny D, he’s walking from Boston to Los Angeles to raise awareness about the serious racial imbalance in media ownership that exists in the United States, and to advocate for an expansion of low-power FM (LPFM) stations nationwide. The twist in this story is that Touch FM is unlicensed, and has already been fined some $17,000 by the FCC.
However, this is no run-of-the-mill “pirate” station; Clemons himself is deeply religious, and the station’s main mission is to serve as a positive outlet of expression for Boston’s African-American community. So much so, in fact, that Boston mayor Thomas Menino saw Clemons off on his walk when it began last week, and has instructed city staff to keep tabs on his progress. The Walk for Power web site has daily updates of the walking schedule; Clemons and his compatriots are taking photos along the journey; and you can even track the walk’s progress via GPS. Cities and towns Clemons will be walking through/past are listed as well; if he’s coming close to your area, I’m sure he’d love to see you. Continue reading “Walk For Power On The Road”
And the operative word here is, indeed, “hope.” The Local Community Radio Act has been reintroduced in Congress. Honestly, I’ve lost track of the number of times that a bill to undo the 2001 legislative evisceration of the FCC’s Low-Power FM radio service has been put forward; this year it’s come out of the starting gate with more momentum than ever – something like two dozen sponsors in the House (there is no companion bill yet in the Senate).
Media reform groups are putting out the call for the citizen-calvary to flood lawmakers with correspondence asking for quick action on this legislation. While it never hurts to raise the profile of this languishing yet important issue, a reality check is called for as well. Continue reading “More LPFM in 2009? Keep Hope Alive”
A pleasant surprise: last week, during the FCC’s monthly meeting, the Commission was to vote on a disastrous plan to give all AM stations a buttload of FM translators, gratis. However – and somewhat true to form for Chairman Kevin Martin’s tenure – the item was pulled from consideration at the last minute. An unnamed source within the FCC reportedly says this is not just a short-term delay; the FM translator giveaway is not slated to be on October’s agenda, either.
Some trade publication, whose name escapes me now (because I didn’t bookmark to their miniscule blurb on the subject), claims that it is the “forces of LPFM” which have delayed the translator giveaway. Not sure what that’s supposed to mean: the “forces of LPFM” are not nearly as organized as they were just a few short months ago, when they lost their most talented and driven public-interest lobbyist for greener pastures. This is a loss that, frankly, cannot be adequately replaced. Continue reading “FCC Begs Off on Translator-Expansion (for now)”
It appears that the U.S. Senate may be moving toward a floor vote on the Local Community Radio Act. This bill originally began under the auspices of undoing the Congressional fiat in 2001 which severely restricted the promulgation of new low-power FM (LPFM) radio stations. By imposing draconian channel-spacing regulations on the new service, LPFM stations were precluded from being sited in areas of the nation in which 80% of the population lives.
The Local Community Radio Act has been the focus of a seven-year campaign to right this wrong. Most importantly, it would relax channel-spacing rules for LPFM stations (allowing them to be placed in more urban areas) and give LPFM stations a semblance of parity with regard to other classes of FM station. This would make LPFMs less susceptible to being bumped off the air by a larger station looking to move or otherwise modify its own transmission infrastructure. Continue reading “LPFM: Movement in Congress?”