Proponents of the bipartisan Local Community Radio Act have seen the bill make its way through both houses of Congress only to stall during the 11th hour in the Senate, and they believe that the NAB is finding senators willing to hold the bill up. On Monday 12/13/10 they plan to show up at NAB headquarters asking to be freed of the need to “jump through hoops.” The NAB essentially welcomed the visitors.
Supporters of LCRA expect to have dozens of people at NAB “with hula hoops and juggling boomboxes” to make their point.
NAB’s Dennis Wharton commented, “It wouldn’t be NAB without an occasional protest, now would it?” He added, “NAB respects the right of all Americans to peaceably assemble.”
Prometheus Radio Project has been a driving force behind the LPFM movement, and its founder Pete Tridish said, “Everyone from civil rights groups to evangelical faith-based organizations wants to expand low power FM radio, and for good reason. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf, of the 42 radio stations in the area, only four of them stayed on the air during or right after the storms – and two were LPFM stations, providing vital local service on the power of a car battery. LPFMs save lives and put pastors, schools, and real local news on the FM dial. We’re going to the NAB to say: Stop holding back progress. LPFMs can only help revitalize the radio dial by increasing listenership and putting local voices on the air! It’s time to expand LPFM.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) was one senator known to have put a hold on the bill, and an LPFM operator in Gillette WY claims he was successful in getting Barrasso to release the bill. Pastor Joel Wright of the First Presbyterian Church of Gillette said, “Our station provides some of the only local service to Gillette when big storms come through, and it puts great content on the air. That’s why so many in our town think it is such a vital resource. When I heard Senator Barrasso was holding up a bill to expand community radio, I called him up and explained to his office the work we do on our low power FM.” Wright claims that after their talk, Barrasso took off his hold.
The main thrust of LCRA is to eliminate 3rd adjacency protection for incumbent services operating in the FM band, a move that would allow LPFMs to be licensed in urban areas that otherwise are lacking space on the dial for them. The FCC has testified that this can be done without excessive interference, and the NAB has said it neither supports nor opposes the bill.