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Feature: The History of LPFM
Part 11

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Congress Gets Involved

MM 99-25's battleground was huge. The National Association of Broadcasters, most of its member stations, and other radio organizations, including National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, all opposed the proposal.

LPFM's advocates included dozens of various public interest groups, religious organizations, and civil rights leaders, including the United States Catholic Conference, Consumers Union, AFL-CIO and the Navajo Nation. More than 2,000 individuals (including many professional broadcasters) also filed comments with the FCC in support of LPFM.

Taken together, MM 99-25 set a record for the amount of public input ever received on an FCC proposal. The public comment window closed on November 15, 1998.

But because the broadcast lobby is the richest and most powerful on Capitol Hill, the NAB called in its investments in Congress, already assuming a losing battle in front of the FCC.

Several members of the House of Representatives, who were paid well by the NAB, proposed a bill which would stop the FCC from continuing its work on LPFM, and prohibit the agency from ever considering the idea again.

The diversity of LPFM's supporters, in a way, actually hurt them in the brewing fight on Capitol Hill. Because so many individuals and groups had so many different ideas on what to do with the potential service and how it should be structured, they could only agree on its necessity. They couldn't fully unify around their own coherent lobbying effort because of their widely differing views on the details.

But killing LPFM through legislation would be difficult: not only did the broadcast industry need to convince the House to pass the bill but the Senate also had to approve, and the President had sign it into law.

Even if legal LPFM were to become reality it was clear that it wouldn't stop unlicensed broadcasting. Many active "pirates" didn't feel the LPFM's service went far enough to open up the airwaves and stayed on the air, all but ignoring the growing hoopla in Washington.

Next page --> FCC Legalizes LPFM -->
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