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If you were holding out hope hope for seeing a legal and viable LPFM service, let go.

Regardless of the flaws in the plan, like the restrictive ownership qualifications and interference standards (which effectively cut out the majority of the American listening public from any new stations), the chances of actually seeing the service flourish are dimming quickly.

On top of a massive lobbying and legal campaign, the attack on LPFM is expanding. Legislation and lawsuits should not be our biggest concern anymore, because now broadcasters are preparing to use their stations - on our airwaves - to kill LPFM.

The Hearing

On Thursday, February 17, the House Telecommunications Subcommittee held a hearing about the FCC's "spectrum management policies," and the specific focus of the event was H.R. 3439, the "Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 1999," which would kill LPFM outright and bury its corpse forever.

Of the members on the Subcommittee, close to half already signed on as co-sponsors of the "Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act" before the LPFM hearing was held.  Currently, more than half the votes needed to pass the 'Act' in the entire House have already been committed.

House leadership is also on board. Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) told a gathering of broadcasters in his home state recently, "We can say no to this misguided action by the FCC, and we will."

Still, testimony at the hearing was feisty, and members of the subcommittee appear to have split along party lines over the issue - for now.

A companion "Preservation Act" has been introduced in the Senate, although Senators typically take a much longer time mulling their options before agreeing to cosponsor legislation. That threat is still real, though.

The Lawsuit

The National Association of Broadcasters has officially filed its lawsuit to try and get the courts to overturn the FCC's LPFM ruling.  As expected, their main argument is one of the potential for interference; however, asking the courts to determine the viability of engineering studies may be a longshot at best.

Surprisingly enough, opponents to LPFM have completely skipped one recourse they could have taken to try and stop the LPFM service; it could have filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the FCC to force it to review its ruling.

Failing to follow through on all fronts may provide the D.C. District Court of Appeals with grounds to dismiss the lawsuit out-of-hand. Hearing dates have not yet been scheduled.

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