Square One

Various news outlets – some radio-related and others mainstream – say the Federal Communications Commission will move toward a vote to make low power FM radio a reality this week. Many advocates who’ve worked long and hard to see this happen are shouting victory.

On the surface, it’s a heady development – but a closer look at the details shows it’s really not much different from the status quo. There is no cause for celebration; we’ve tried to work with the system, and – mark my words – it will let us down.

Whatever happens this week, it will be one big lie. Read More

The End-Run Begins

Just two days after the FCC closed the second round of comments on a proposal to legalize a low power radio service, the broadcast lobby has chosen not to wait to hear the opinions that more than three thousand of you sent the Federal Communications Commission on the issue.

Representative Michael Oxley (R-OH) has announced the introduction of legislation called the “Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 1999,” which would prohibit the FCC from continuing its proceeding on the creation of a low power radio service, as well as prohibit the FCC from ever being able to consider such a service again.

Oxley has already issued a press release on his new bill. It is nothing more than the “party line” we have all already heard from the National Association of Broadcasters, its members and, most importantly, the lobbying force it controls. Read More

The True Face of the Dark Side

It was to be a busy annual convention for the National Association of Broadcasters: with consolidation at a fever pitch and various new technologies being unveiled, corporate broadcasters all over the nation converged on Las Vegas last week to talk shop and pitch wares.

As is the typical form, FCC Chairman William Kennard addressed the assembled executives and managers at a breakfast meeting.

These annual addresses typically are a “state of broadcasting” kind of speech, where the FCC Chairman at the time lays out his goals for the coming year. One of those goals will be the creation of a low power radio service. In fact, Kennard made special mention of it in his speech.

The entire event was broadcast over the Internet – all but Kennard’s low power broadcasting comments. Read More

Beware the Propaganda

Always give credit where credit is due. What you’re about to read began as the sample “editorial” the NAB included in its recently released “Low-Power FM Lobbying Kit.” Keep a close eye on your local newspaper’s Opinions section – it seems like the radio industry trying to spin public opinion much like they program the airwaves.

Fight fire with fire. We have tweaked the NAB’s copy below. Feel free to print it out and submit it en masse. Maybe get your copy in first; that way when Mr. Radio Executive in your town gets theirs printed, it’ll look like he copied you! Read More

First Skirmish

Things may seem like they’re moving at a quick pace, but this is just a flurry of activity before great lull before the next Big Phase in the legalization of low-power FM.

While supporters of a low-power radio service continue to work on their comments and enlightening more people to what may lie on their radio dial, the National Association of Broadcasters is finally grinding into motion. The first meeting of its LPFM “war council,” otherwise known as the Spectrum Integrity Task Force, met last week, undoubtedly laying out the long-term strategy in the fight against legalization.

On the NAB’s own website duscission boards, LPFM doesn’t appear to be drawing much interest. A whopping two posts have been made about the subject, touting all the economic harm that LPRS will supposedly do to “small” stations. Not even a clap from the audience. Either most commercial broadcasters today are woefully Internet-illiterate or don’t really much care about LPFM becoming a reality.

The NAB has a request to extend the deadline for comments and replies on the LPFM proposal until October, which would effectively keep all possible movement forward on the idea bottled up for at least another six months. It claims it wants to use the time to do “studies” on what “interference” LPFM may cause its members’ over-valued “broadcast properties.”

Translated, this means two things: the first is manufacture a “spin” on the technical data – painting as terrible a picture of signal interference as it can. The second is to lobby as much support in Congress as possible for a potential end run around the FCC completely.

LPFM proponents haven’t been napping, either. The Amherst Alliance, frustrated with all of the delays in action, fired off written correspondence to the FCC in tones that were not completely diplomatic on the issue:

5 months passed from the initial RM-9208 Notice in February of 1998 to the closing of the comment period in July of 1998. After that, another 6 months passed from the close of comments to the issuance of a Proposed Rule in late January of 1999. Read More