The Senate Screwdriver
The anti-LPFM rhetoric didn't play as well in the Senate, where the number of supporters of the "Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act" (S. 2068) was much slower to grow.
Part of the reason was due to the dubious moves of Arizona Senator John McCain. While he'd previously spoken out against the idea of LPFM, he took the Senate sponsors of the anti-LPFM bill to task for trying to stifle the diversity it would provide. Since McCain controlled the committee the bill would have to pass through before a vote, there was a good chance it wouldn't get far.
Instead, McCain proposed his own LPFM legislation, called the "FM Radio Broadcasting Act." His bill would have allowed the FCC to roll out low power radio on schedule, but it could have opened up license applicants to frivolous lawsuits from full-power station owners - draining fledgling stations of their funds could have killed them just as surely as if the House-approved bill became law.
Courts and Counterattacks
While the foes of LPFM worked to kill the plan through Congress, they also began a "Plan B" through the courts. The NAB filed a motion to have the D.C. District Court suspend the FCC's new LPFM rules, claiming that the agency moved too quickly on the idea without considering the consequences. The suit lost in the first round and in the summer of 2000 it moved to the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Meanwhile, some of LPFM's most vocal supporters did a surprising about-face and petitioned the FCC to reconsider its rulemaking - right in the middle of the agency's first LPFM license application window.
The Amherst Alliance, a grassroots LPFM advocacy group co-founded by Schellhardt, and a slew of individuals filed a Motion to Reconsider out of protest at the FCC's planned LPFM applicant screening process.
The objection, in a nutshell, was that the FCC had set the qualifications for getting a license too high and had banned part of the unlicensed microradio movement from the process - cutting out a large number of those who worked so hard to give the original proposal its momentum.
The FCC denied the motion to reconsider and moved on sluggishly with plans to issue LPFM licenses. On Capitol Hill, the lobbying war heated up.