Prometheus In The Halls Of Power!
In late February, the FCC released a report to Congress that recommended that Low Power FM radio get a second chance in the major American cities.
A loose coalition of allied Low Power FM radio advocates spent several intensive days lobbying the Commerce Committee. These groups included the Prometheus Radio Project, Free Press, the Media Access Project, the United Church of Christ, the National Catholic Conference, and the Future of Music Coalition. Representatives of the various groups -- plus Low Power FM radio station operators John Gerbracht of the Edinboro Early School and Mike Shay of the South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development, visited dozens of offices over the past weeks.
On February 20th, the FCC made its recommendations to Congress to remove the third-adjacency protection standard -- that unnecessary buffer which keeps America's cities from building Low Power FM radio stations. That same day, Senator John McCain announced he would introduce a bill that would reverse the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 2000, the bill that put the buffer in place. If passed, this legislation will allow thousands more LPFMs on the air, particularly in metropolitan areas. The bill is expected to be introduced within the coming weeks, making now the decisive time to contact the Senate.
On the meetings themselves -- the meetings at the Senate were really very promising. They were actually pretty fun, depending how broadly you like to stretch that term. Most Senate staff are young and thoughtful and open-minded, and especially enjoy hearing stories about the new stations. Low Power FM radio advocates who visit their Senators with a positive story to tell -- or an amazing dream of what they could do with a station -- serve as a welcome break from all the people that come to them with terrible problems and self-interested business requests. Several of the Senate staffers, when presented with the independent findings of the MITRE Corporation vindicating LPFM, indicated that they thought that the Senator may be interested in changing sides on the issue and even co-sponsoring legislation! We were met with enthusiastic interest from Republicans and Democrats alike, many of whom were completely unfamiliar with the issue.
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