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Amendment One: LPFM Summer

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by Don Schellhardt

Faith moved mountains in June -- and again in July.

In June, as I reported previously, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee approved an expanded version of S. 1046. Thanks to an amendment by Senator Byron Dorgan, D-ND, the new version would restore both the nationwide ceiling on TV ownership and the more broadly based restrictions on media cross-ownership.

In July, by a vote of 400-21, another blow was struck. Using a “rider” to an Appropriations bill -- the same technique used by large broadcasters to pass restrictive legislation on Low Power FM in 2000 -- advocates of media diversity won House approval for restoration of the previous TV ownership ceilings.

The House defeated an amendment, offered by Representative Maurice Hinchey, D-NY, that would have restored the media cross-ownership limitations as well. However, a switch by just 1 of every 7 House Members would have changed the outcome. Thus, House approval of restored cross-ownership caps is still a real possibility through a re-vote, particularly if the full Senate votes that way first.

I call these votes a victory for faith because that’s what they were. In just 3 months, over 2 million people contacted Congress and/or the FCC to oppose media consolidation. These people must have hoped, or believed, despite the odds, that enough Davids, firing their slingshots together, could bring down a few Goliaths.

And these 2 million Davids were right!! …. So far … But …

We must keep up the pressure while legislators are home for the August Recess.

That’s why the advocacy group I lead, THE AMHERST ALLIANCE, has joined with others to launch the “LPFM SUMMER” campaign. “LPFM SUMMER” urges citizens to take “2 STEPS 2 ADVANCE 2 GOALS”.

The 2 steps are: (1) writing or Faxing the Washington offices of your 1 U.S. Representative and 2 U.S. Senators, during a Recess period when staffers are less busy, distracted and/or pre-occupied than usual; and (2) calling the local offices of the same legislators to arrange personal meetings with them, while they are back home. Show ‘em they can leave Washington, but they can’t escape the heat.

The 2 goals are restoring: (1) all media ownership ceilings, including cross-ownership ceilings; and (2) previous channel spacing standards for Low Power FM.

Regarding LPFM: In 2000, citing concerns about radio interference, Congress tightened channel spacing standards for LPFM. This move eliminated 2 of every 3 possible LPFM stations. However, on July 10, in response to a legal filing by THE AMHERST ALLIANCE and 18 others, the FCC released a previously secret MITRE Corporation study. It confirms LPFM interference is not a problem.

“LPFM SUMMER” could eventually prove as important for the cause of human freedom as “The Summer Of Love” in 1969. So … Please make your summer count -- by taking “2 STEPS 2 ADVANCE 2 GOALS”.

More information will be posted next week on


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