LPFM Bill Stalled in Senate

An unknown number of Republican Senators have placed a hold on the Local Community Radio Act.
For those not up on the intricacies of our corrupt political system, Senators have the privilege of placing an indefinite pause on action of any legislation they deem to be “detrimental” to their constituents. Oftentimes, Senate holds are used as favors to well-moneyed constituents or as bargaining chips.
The former is what is more likely here: a restoration of the FCC’s LPFM service back to its rules as originally conceived in 2000 is not something that, at this point in our media-policy history, has much horse-trading value; incumbent broadcasters (and their trade representatives on Capitol Hill) still have much more clout than the rest of us, and it’s showing.
What’s worse, the Senatorial holds are reportedly taking place hot-potato style: one Senator places a hold on the Local Community Radio Act, is pleaded with to remove it, and then another Senator steps in with their own hold-motion. This can go on for as long as each Senator is willing to accept the political backlash.
So, even though the LCRA has been officially endorsed by the full House of Representatives and a Senate Committee, there’s slim hope that the bill will make it to a full vote on the Senate floor, and to President Obama’s desk by the end of the year – all because a handful of Senators are deciding to exercise this particular power in a most undemocratic fashion.
This, of course, means that the entire legislative process to restore LPFM will be reset with the coming of the next Congress (after the November elections). Each time, the process inches a step further along; perhaps the 10th time will be the charm.
This also explains why the FCC has not yet gone ahead and opened up another LPFM license-filing window, even for the as-yet un-created LP-10 stations. With the draconian interference protection rules imposed upon LPFM stations (ironically, by Congressional fiat nearly 10 years ago), there’s really no place to put new stations, which would make it a fruitless exercise.
LPFM station owners and advocates are aware of this chicanery, and are working on it, but as always it’s an uphill fight. The problem is that telecom policy in D.C. is all about the Internet these days, and issues involving a “mature” medium like FM radio broadcasting are just not on the legislative-policymaking radar. If this is a passing phase or permanent sentiment remains to be seen.