A bill opening the door to a new crop of low power FM stations seemed within grasp after clearing the House of Representatives and the Senate Commerce Committee with a healthy dose of bipartisan support. But Politico.com is reporting a hold placed on the bill by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), which follows similar maneuvers by two others.
Earlier holds have come from Barrasso’s colleague Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Tom Coburn (R-OK).
The bill would make it easier to find holes on the FM dial, particularly in urban areas, by eliminating 3rd adjacency protection for incumbent full power FMs.
According to Politico, Barrasso wants to make sure that the language of the bill makes sure to differentiate between full and low power stations.
Bill sponsor Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said, “It is unfortunate that even though the legislation has been worked on for the better part of four Congresses and has cleared the Senate Commerce Committee in each of the last four Congresses, there are those who choose to side with corporate special interests and use anonymous holds to block the progress this bill represents.”
Pete Tridish of LPFM advocacy Prometheus Radio Project agreed that the process has been extremely slow.
However, although NAB’s Dennis Wharton acknowledged the difficulty of finding a hole for any new entrants onto the FM dial, he said the NAB’s fingerprints were not on the slowdown and that NAB was unaware that a hold had been placed on the bill. Wharton said, “It’s difficult to shoehorn hundreds of stations into an already crowded radio dial. You just can’t give everyone a Social Security card and a radio station at birth and think that there’s not going to be chaos on the airwaves.”
The NAB earlier took a neutral position on the bill, neither supporting nor opposing it.
RBR-TVBR observation: If there is one state in the union that ought to have room for a few LPFMs, it’s Wyoming. Sometimes you have to wonder if the Senate was dreamed up by the Founding Fathers, or if it was dreamed up by a fictional writer such as Kurt Vonnegut’s imaginary SciFi author Kilgore Trout. Make the case for the latter option and we’d have to give it a serious listen.