Tomorrow is a big day for supporters of community radio. The Senate Commerce Committee is voting on removing the caps on low-power FM stations in urban markets, something that's long overdue. But, as expected, the big broadcasters aren't happy about it.
In 2000, the FCC voted to issue low-power FM licenses, which many hoped would go a small way towards making up for the loss of diversity and localism that occurred with the passing of the 1996 Federal Communications Act.
The National Association of Broadcasters didn't see it that way. They campaigned hard against LPFM, claiming that the influx of new stations would cause "oceans of interference "on their own megawatt channels. Comprehensive studies have shown this to be patently untrue, but Big Radio still managed to score a ban on 100-watt broadcasting in urban areas through the innocuously-named "Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act," which was passed by Congress in December 2000.
Now LPFM is back on the table. What can you do? Well, if you hurry, you can contact your Senator and tell them how important community radio is to schools, community and religious organizations, nonprofits and music lovers. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or visit visit www.congress.org to get your Senator's info. Also, our associates at FreePress.org have made it incredibly simple to send a letter expressing your support for low-power radio.
For more information on LPFM, check out this handy FMC factsheet.