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Activist / Legal
The FCC has been very active in establishing Low Power FM radio but they have been
receiving a tough fight from Congress due to misleading information from Senators,
the National Association of Broadcasters, National Public Radio and big-money conglomerates
out to protect the status quo (ie: they control the airwaves, you don't). The new
LPFM service is an effort by the FCC to provide local community groups, religious
organizations, as well as ethnic and minority groups a voice in an increasingly consolidated
radio market. In short, it is an effort to serve the local public interest.
Congress recently passed a bill severely limiting Low Power FM radio. The
bill was tacked on to an appropriations bill (HR 4690) which former President Clinton
had said he would veto, but did not. Instead of the thousands of new radio stations,
we will (at this time) get about 240 total new stations - mostly in rural areas of
low population density.
The anti-LPFM bill (S
3020) in the Senate was introduced by Minnesota's Rod Grams* (R) and it carries the same name as a previous bill -- The Radio
Broadcasting Preservation Act of 2000. The bill calls for such drastic reductions
in service as to make LPFM all but dead. Bill S3020 (with backing from the NAB and
NPR) also calls for "independent" studies to be done on LPFM transmitters
before the FCC can continue licensing.
What needs to be tested? There is already ample data to examine as LPFM transmitters
are the same as existing translator stations (stations up to 250 watts in size that
rebroadcast an existing signal (usually National Public Radio or such)). There have
been no interference complaints about translators and these have more power than
LPFM and have been in existence for a long time. The only real difference is that
LPFM would originate content. If the NAB and NPR truly believe that these
stations need to be tested before any are added, shouldn't they shut down all
their translators until such testing has been finished?
The representatives in Congress have heard many times from the mega-media corporations
and the NAB. Congress still needs to hear from the people they claim to represent
-- the public. Find out who your elected officials are by visiting Project Vote-Smart and
then call their office or write a letter.
Need some more information on LPFM?
The Media Access Project
has great information.
Visit The Micro Radio Implementation
See the FCC's very informative Allegations
and Facts page.
The FCC's Low Power
FM Guide (pdf file) is now available from their website.
They also have a Frequently
Asked Questions (FAQ) page for your viewing.
FCC Chairman Kennard's recent
FCC Commissioner Tristani's recent
Visit About.com's Pirate/Free Radio site to see The
Congressional Hall of Shame.
For technical background related to HR3439, visit Christopher Maxwell's Counter-Testimony
* Grams was soundly defeated in his bid for
re-election and he didn't even bother to vote on his own bill.
National Public Radio appears to be continuing with
its efforts to stop public access from the public airwaves by killing Low-Power FM.
What do you think about this? Are you upset and disgusted? Shocked? Not surprised
Take the un-pledge
this year with your Public Radio station!
FUD* FROM NAB
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is fighting
against the low-power movement and they are particularly well-funded. In just the past six years, the NAB has contributed over
$2.19 million dollars to elected officials. Not only that, but they have been resorting to misleading tests
and apparent tampering. It is crucial that you, the citizens of this country, make
your voices heard. These are PUBLIC airwaves and should have usage dictated BY and
FOR the public.
Want to see what kind of business the NAB is up to?
Recently they have trotted out arguments of interference to the Talking Book Services
for the Blind that some National Public Radio stations carry. They claim that LPFM
would destroy these important services for the blind. Signals for this service are
broadcast on the subcarrier signal of the host station and are many times weaker
than the main broadcast. It is necessary to get a special radio to receive the subcarrier
signal. The most interference comes from the host signal itself!
The NAB has been rallying large amounts of support through the distribution of a
fraudulent "interference simulation" audio CD -- a CD containing a computer-created
sample that won't ever occur in the real world! Here's
FCC explanation regarding this CD and other false interference
claims. Listen to the mp3 file of the audio CD (9 megs) they distributed around Capitol Hill. They simply took
two pre-recorded audio files and mixed them together on a computer to demonstrate
how LPFM would work. Technically inclined people were outraged -- FM radio doesn't
work this way. Their "example" was a complete fraud!
Prior to this their argument was that LPFM would cause interference to air traffic
controllers and airplanes -- jumbo jets would fall from the sky and communication
would be destroyed! If a 100,000 watt full-power station doesn't interfere, how would
a tiny 100 watt station? Not likely to happen in this world.
Take a look through this anti-Low Power document (pdf file) they sent to their members. Or take a look at their webcast from their 1999 national convention. Mysteriously enough, the video/audio
have been tampered with at exactly the moment FCC Chief Kennard discusses LPFM.
* Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt
NOTE: APPLICATION FORMS ARE NOW AVAILABLE FOR LPFM. CHECK THE
FCC SITE FOR APPLICATION WINDOWS IN YOUR AREA.
Over 1200 groups
have filed applications in the first 20 states!
The FCC LPFM Application:
(Acrobat PDF file)
FCC Pages on Low-Power Radio:
THE AMHERST DECLARATION
Comments on LPFM Petitions:
Grassroots News and Media Conference: