Low power FM radio, a truly democratic use of the radio spectrum, was greatly inhibited when introduced in 2000 by restrictions placed on it under pressure from commercial broadcasters (and NPR), who claimed it would interfere with their signals in urban areas. A study ordered by Congress showed these claims were baseless, and in June Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation to undo these restrictions.
The Senate Commerce Committee approved the legislation last week:
- The panel approved a measure that would in most cases allow non-commercial, 10- to 100-watt radio stations to operate two notches away from high-power commercial stations instead of three channels as the law currently requires.
That could allow on the air many more low-power stations, which usually have a reach of about 3.5 miles. About 450 of the stations are on the air out of the approximately 1,000 construction permits issued for stations, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
In a report to Congress, the FCC said fears that bigger radio broadcasters would suffer interference from the smaller stations if they were two slots away were unfounded and urged Congress to relax the separation requirements.
….”After spending more than $2 million on a study to appease the NAB, the study revealed what the FCC and others said all along, that LPFM stations will provide virtually no interference with other broadcasters,” said Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican and outspoken critic of broadcasters.
….There is no companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives so it is unclear whether the Senate measure would advance far this year. [Reuters]
Get on it, House.
As I have said before, the reason LPFM in urban areas would be such an important breakthrough is that urban areas ARE WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE.