Congressional LPFM Expansion Play Afoot

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.
It is called the WARN Act, and its primary goal is to effectively expand the use of the Emergency Alert System to media outlets other than broadcast radio and television – this will eventually include cell phones and other devices.
LPFM enhances the WARN Act by getting Congress to reaffirm its commitment to signal diversity – more stations means tighter coverage of the “National Alert System” network. LPFM stations proved their worth in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The relative inexpensiveness of LPFM stations, along with their heightened commitments to localism, make hitching an expansion of LPFM to the WARN Act a <pretty powerful sell.
The bill’s currently sitting in committee with just over a dozen co-sponsors. No word on how or when an LPFM expansion amendment might come into play, but those laying the groundwork are doing so with optimism.