The low power FM community is blaming the NAB for the fact that the Local Community Radio Act has stalled in Congress, and activist members descended on the NAB Monday 12/13/10 to express their displeasure with the broadcaster organization, and to get the attention of legislators in hopes of getting the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
The demonstrators said, “Stop making us jump through hoops! Support low power FM radio and the Local Community Radio Act!”
Pete Tridish of Prometheus Radio Project has been a driving force behind the LPFM movement, and he said, “Low power FM radio stations not only put local music, news, and political debates on the FM dial, they saved lives after Hurricane Katrina because they put up-to-the-minute local information on the air – and they are small and flexible enough to keep running with a car battery when the power goes out. By passing this bill today, Congress will be supporting thousands of constituent organizations instead of bowing to one big broadcast lobby’s wishes. Gordon Smith is silencing voices across the country by opposing the expansion of community radio. So we’re here to say: Gordon Smith, don’t make a circus of our democracy – stop making us jump through hoops; work with Congress to pass this bill.”
LCRA would eliminate 3rd adjacent channel protection for incumbent FM stations on the dial, a move that is necessary for LPFM stations to begin to be constructed in urban areas.
Numerous activists stated their case for putting up more low power facilities, representing organizations that already have successful stations up and running, as well as others that are forced to resort to less-desirable internet platforms to get their local content out.
The FCC testified numerous times in Congress in favor of eliminating 3rd adjacency protection and increasing the number of LPFM stations. The NAB has said it neither opposes nor supports the bill.
RBR-TVBR observation: The proximity of the holidays makes a lame duck even lamer. As time grows short, most of the focus of the lame duck Congress is going to go to the biggest issues. That does not mean that a bill like LCRA could not sneak through, on its own or attached to something else. But the chances for action would seem to be getting slimmer by the hour.
Looking ahead to the 112th Congress, something to watch for will be the identity of the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. One of the contenders is Lee Terry (R-NE), and the LPFM community will no doubt be pulling for him, since he is one of the LCRA sponsors.