New improved LPFM bill passes the House


This time, the Local Community Radio Act has the full support of the National Association of Broadcasters, since a few tweaks have been added to protect incumbents from damaging interference from prospective new LPFM neighbors on the FM dial. The bill carried on a voice vote. Next stop: The Senate.

LPFM activists were recently at the NAB asking the organization to get out of the way so that the bill could be passed. NAB, with tweaks in hand, is not only getting out of the way, it is inviting LPFM supporters back to its HQ for a celebratory event after the new year kicks in.

The tweaks included acknowledgement that full power FMs are the primary local service in the FM band, and provisions for minimum distance separations.

Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Lee Terry (R-NE) were the bipartisan House sponsors of the bill. They amended it, got it to the floor, received a letter from the NAB indicating the organization’s support, and Doyle shepherded it to approval by a voice vote.

NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said, “The revised legislation will expand the number of LPFM stations in the U.S. while providing full-power radio stations with the protection and clarity we have long sought. NAB salutes today’s House action and offers its support for Senate passage as well.”

Prometheus Radio Project, the driving force behind the LPFM movement, had a lot to say about the development. “The Prometheus Radio Project celebrates the re-passage of the Local Community Radio Act (HR 6533).  We also welcome the news that legislators and the National Association of Broadcasters have reached an accord on the Senate version of the bill, the Local Community Radio Act, S592 — a bill that would expand low power FM noncommercial radio stations to communities nationwide.”

PRP sent shoutouts to the bills sponsors, Doyle and Terry in the House and John McCain (R-AZ) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in the Senate, and congratulated Terry on his upcoming elevation to vice-chair of the House Communications subcommittee. It also thanked incoming subcom chair Greg Walden (R-OR) for withdrawing his opposition to LCRA after the NAB tweaks were included.

RBR-TVBR observation: It is expected that the mysterious holds that have plagued LCRA in the Senate will evaporate. It should now be a matter of when the bill is placed on the floor. Then the story likely will be “LPFM: Coming to an urban enclave near you.” Wonder if NAB’s DuPont Circle neighborhood will be one of them?