As part of the compromises made to pass the Local Community Radio Act through Congress, a provision was inserted which requires the Federal Communications Commission to examine the “economic impact” LPFM stations have on full-power FM stations.
Comments on the proposed ground-rules of the “study” are due to the FCC in a month, and the study itself is supposed to be tendered to Congress early next year.
The FCC must probe two questions: what effects will an LPFM expansion have on the advertising revenue and audience-share of full-power radio stations?
On its face, the “study” is nothing more than a make-work exercise for the FCC, arguably designed to slow down the expansion of the LPFM service. Its primary questions are absurd – and pretty simply answered. Continue reading “"Studying" the Implicatons of LPFM's Expansion”
Congratulations to everyone who worked tirelessly – both over the last 10 years and the last two weeks – to convince Congress to finally approve the Local Community Radio Act. Given the recent changes in the political winds of D.C., this was most likely the very last chance to fundamentally expand the LPFM radio service.
Things literally came down to the wire: after locking the bill in stasis for months with secret holds from industry-friendly Senators, last-minute negotiations between LPFM proponents and the National Association of Broadcasters, combined with a multi-faceted grassroots lobbying blitz, ended up in a hasty rewrite of the actual legislation, which the House quickly approved on Friday and the Senate blessed on Saturday. President Obama’s signature is a given. Continue reading “LPFM's Second Wave”
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. Continue reading “LPFM Bill Stalled in Senate”
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”
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”
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”
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?”