Today the U.S. Senate voted to approve legislation that essentially legalizes the warrantless surveillance of the communications of U.S. citizens. We know such behavior’s been going on for more than two years, when a whistleblower stepped forward to disclose that AT&T had been working closely with the National Security Agency (NSA) – so much so that the NSA now has its own special rooms in AT&T communications backbone facilities. In these rooms are giant, electronic taps that essentially monitor, record, and allow for the analysis of every phone call, facsimile transmission, and all other electronic communications passing through AT&T’s network.
As the largest telecommunications provider in the United States, it is virtually impossible for any communications network traffic to travel from point A to point B without transiting some node in AT&T’s vast infrastructure. Which in effect means that for as long as this program has been going on, we’ve all been under Big Brother’s scrutiny to some degree. Continue reading “Congress Shreds Constitutional Privacy, But It's Not Over Yet”
My work online here will significantly slow down over the next couple of months, as I enter the most critical phase of my graduate studies to-date. Once I hopefully become ABD (“all but dissertation”) in early May, some of the pressure ease. But then I’m immediately leaving the country for an exploratory workshop hosted by the European Science Foundation on the impact of digitalization with regard to community media. As one a handful of non-EU “experts” invited to the event, I expect my role will primarily be to warn other countries in the midst of formulating, adopting, or modifying digital radio standards to stay as far away from iBiquity’s HD protocol as they possibly can.
Expect “regular” content-generation to resume sometime in late May or so. I made updates to the Schnazz, Truthful Translations, and Enforcement Action Database over the weekend, so those are up to date, at least in the near term.
In the meantime, keep an eye on these stories: Continue reading “Hiatus Ahoy: Notes While Away”
A coordinated introduction of bills in the House and Senate by bipartisan duos suggests the chance to rescind the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act may be pretty good this year – but, as the Mediageek has already noted, prior Congressional history on this issue means there’s still a lot that must happen before any LPFM expansion becomes law.
There are several factors working both for and against the growth of LPFM. One is that telecommunications and media-regulation issues more generally are occupying a lot more of Congress’ time this session: several large debates related to broadband deployment and network operation, spectrum repurposement, possible corporate mergers (such as the proposed XM/Sirius marriage), and copyright/royalty regulation are already sucking a lot of political time and energy. Continue reading “New LPFM Expansion Effort Launched in Congress”
“Radio Goldfield,” a pirate station run by seasoned citizen Rod Moses out of his trailer in Goldfield, Nevada (population 440) has received special temporary authority from the FCC to operate a 100-watt FM outlet without an official license until such time as the FCC opens another LPFM filing window.
How did he do it? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s ringing endorsement, in correspondence to the agency, probably sealed the deal: Continue reading “New Licensing Loophole Involves Influential Senator”
Ever since Congress bowed to pressure from commercial and public broadcasters six years ago and severely gutted the low-power FM radio service, its advocates have been working the Hill looking for a way to nullify the intervention. Several tries at passing bills to directly reverse the damage died quietly, which has directed attention toward using the amendment process as a vehicle for progress.
The “Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act” only became law because it was attached to a spending measure. This maneuver is one of the most sneakily abused ways of routing corrupt legislation through the system. LPFM advocates, led by the Prometheus Radio Project, are at least working with an existing bill that specifically involves important communications regulation. Continue reading “Congressional LPFM Expansion Play Afoot”
The boss who oversaw the National Association of Broadcasters’ evisceration of the FCC’s low-power FM radio service, Eddie Fritts, stepped aside as president last year, and considers the squelching of LPFM one of his greatest accomplishments. The new NAB chieftain is David K. Rehr, former chairman of the National Beer Wholesalers Association.
NAB President David Rehr, GOP Palm-Greaser ExtraordinaireWhen Rehr was selected to replace Fritts, the NAB pointed to his significant and unabashed lobbying and fundraising skills – Rehr made the NBWA political action fund one of the ten biggest spenders in Washington and currently doles out more than twice as much cash as does the NAB. Rehr was also a “Bush Pioneer” in 2004, raising more than $100,000 for his second campaign, and has extremely close ties to Republican congressional leadership and the K Street Project. Continue reading “NAB Finesses Lobbying Strategy”
Overlooked in the hurricane fury: this month Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the “Enhance and Protect Local Community Radio Act of 2005.” It’s a companion bill to Senator McCain and Leahy’s (R-AZ / D-VT) legislation, although it adds a substantial twist on the translator issue. Continue reading “LPFM Expansion Bill Introduced in House”
An interesting development on Capitol Hill seems to be stymieing the advancement of legislation to expand the LPFM service. Advocates have been working closely with congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) to craft a bill in the House of Representatives that would jibe with Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) Local Community Radio Act. The bill hasn’t been introduced yet because it needs demonstrable support from GOP representatives to be taken seriously, and no Republicans will co-sponsor the bill, although the ongoing grassroots recruitment effort is impressive.
Now comes a new complication: Slaughter has learned about the translator speculation and trafficking scheme that threatens to eat up space for new LPFM stations, and she’s pissed. So pissed, in fact, that she wants to include language in her LPFM bill that would deal with the translator issue pretty severely. The conventional wisdom suggests that the addition of such “polarizing” language – especially on an issue involving religious organizations – won’t help the effort to drum up GOP support for LPFM. Continue reading “Dueling Legislative Priorities: LPFM vs. Translator”
There’s lots of telecommunications-related legislation in the works this year, including a potential rewrite of the entire Telecommunications Act; a move to force broadcast television to make the break from analog to digital; and a bevy of bills that could fundamentally shift the way cable systems and phone companies are regulated and interact at the local level with the communities they serve. That’s why low power radio advocates think the timing is right to push for an expansion of LPFM via Congress: the stakes are so much higher on so many other issues that a chance exists to squeak through something positive.
In February, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced a bill to expand LPFM back out to the parameters the FCC had originally defined for the service in 2000. Before the end of the month a similar bill will be introduced in the House of Representatives, sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY). The bill was to drop on June 9th but lacked demonstrable Republican support. Without such backing any LPFM legislation in the House is all but DOA. Continue reading “LPFM on Capitol Hill”
Last week REC Networks released a comprehensive report on all LPFM stations which face interference, displacement, and the varying degrees of signal encroachment in between from full-power FM stations. The report runs 110 pages. REC’s also been keeping a close eye on the DTV transition, and reports that of all of the stations currently broadcasting on Channel 6, only five have requested to stay on their analog channel past the transition cutoff date (to be determined).
Got some reliable information on the political situation in D.C. It seems that the National Association of Broadcasters is busy fighting bigger problems, like losing its request that all DTV channels be carried on cable, and the indecency hot potato, and others. At the LPFM Day not so long ago a new LPFM rulemaking was hinted at. Perhaps this can accomplish at the agency level what the Local Community Radio Act of 2005 is trying to do. There’s definitely a better chance of expanding LPFM at the FCC level, especially while the NAB’s playing defense on the legislative front. I think the folks at NPR are mature enough to see that it’s time to cede the issue. Continue reading “LPFM Notes; Media Reform Conference Redux”