LPFM: Back from the Dead?

Those still hoping for a meaningful low power radio service in the United States received a boost in morale last week when Arizona Senator John McCain introduced the “Low Power Radio Act of 2001.”
The bill, officially named S. 404, would repeal the restrictions placed on the FCC’s new LPFM service by Congress late last year. It would also require the FCC to quickly investigate complaints of interference between new LPFM and full-power stations.
McCain’s legislation also contains a provision designed to keep full-power stations from bullying the new “little guys” around: under his plan, if a complaint is found to be unwarranted, the station who brought the action could be subject to a stiff fine – and the money would be given to the LPFM station targeted by the complaint. Continue reading “LPFM: Back from the Dead?”

On the Cusp

As often happens in Washington, there’s a flurry of activity on an issue – then it drops from the spotlight for a while. Such has been the case with low power radio.
Ever since Arizona Senator John McCain threw up a Congressional roadblock on the greased rails that the National Association of Broadcasters had built for a bill to ban the FCC’s re-legalization of low power FM stations, activity on Capitol Hill has dropped off.
Originally, many “inside the Beltway” felt that McCain’s introduction of a separate LPFM bill – allowing the FCC’s plan to continue yet opening up the new stations to huge lawsuits from commercial broadcasters, – was just a holding action designed to drain off the NAB’s lobbying momentum. Continue reading “On the Cusp”

The McCain Mystery

On May 30, the FCC will begin taking applications for the first new low power FM radio licenses to be issued since the agency initially banned them more than 30 years ago. Would-be broadcasters in 11 states and the Mariana Islands will get first crack at the 100-watt LPFM licenses; the first station could go on the air as early as August.
Yet a battle rages in Congress to kill the service before it even gets off the ground. So far, 34 Senators have signed onto anti-LPFM legislation that the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved (with some changes) in mid-April.
But the broadcast lobby’s momentum appears to be slowing. It only takes 51 votes to pass a bill in the Senate (compared to 218 needed in the House) and the number of Senators committed to the bill stalled at around 30 for nearly a month. Continue reading “The McCain Mystery”