Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Today in the Akron Legal News -- Low Power FM

What with the health care death match moving into the Senate and ongoing dramas over the budget, it's easy to miss the small bills floating around Congress. For today's column I flag one such bill, HR 1147, the Local Community Radio Act. The LCRA expands the authority of the FCC to issue licenses to non-profit low-power FM radio stations.

These 10-100 watt stations essentially cover a neighborhood -- imagine a radio station for Highland Square. Um, one not run by the Highland Square Neighborhood Association, preferably. In one article about low power FM the range of a rural station is described as having a 20 mile radius -- city clutter would cut that down.

Both commercial broadcasters and NPR have been lobbying against the proposed new rules for fear that the signals form low power stations would interfere with there signals. Given the current state of corporate radio, that sounds like an advantage. But in fact the FCC commissioned a study that indicates that the expanding LPFM will not interfere with extant radio stations.

Despite the technical reassurances and despite bipartisan co-sponsorship versions of the LCRA have failed in two Congresses so far. The House version is supposed to be heading for a floor vote in the next month or so.

Blogging is a big deal because a diversity of people were able to gain wide exposure with essentially no entry costs. LPFM isn't that good, but the entry costs are a fraction of starting up a traditional radio station. The effect of blogging on traditional news gathering has been undeniable. The effect of LPFM on commercial radio is likely to be slower and more subtle, but then commercial radio can't go anywhere but up.


I heard about the issue from getting on Free Press's email list. Here's their take on it. Free Press also lobbies for net neutrality.

One of the lead players in the lobbying effort is the Prometheus Radio Project. Here is a HuffPo piece from a Prometheus spokes person.

A map I reference showing LPFM stations in the U.S. is here.

The FCC is pretty much pro-low power. Here for example is a fact sheet from the agency answering a bunch of the objections. And this page contains links to a number of publications the FCC has put out as the controversy has worn on.

The essence of the Act is to allow third adjacent channel stations -- that is stations that are three channels away from an extant station. Here's a more detailed explanation of that.

If you are interested in following the progress of the bill, check out the Open Congress page.


被リンク said...

Today, how many people still listen to the radio?

Can those non-profit low-power FM radio program survive in such a bad economic.