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

Legislative Maneuvers

There are three levels at which to play the political game. They are the local (the bottom level), state (middle), and national (the top level). Each step up the ladder takes more effort, adds more risks, and can lead to more rewards. Not surprisingly, those higher up on the ladder contain more power than those on the lower rungs.

As far as the legalization of low-power radio goes, there’s different activity at different levels – and each one paints a unique perspective on how its political game is being played out. Surprisingly, much of the action is happening in Michigan.

Starting locally, Tom Ness and his merry band of walking civics lessons at the Michigan Music is World Class Campaign have been busy bringing the issue before city councils, township boards and other bodies of local government. The goal is to collect resolutions – official documents by a government body that don’t set policy, but do express an “official opinion” on an issue or cause. Read More

The Brewing Congressional Conflict

On the heels of Louisiana Congressweasel Billy Tauzin’s move to squash the LPFM service currently under development at the FCC, those in favor of low-power broadcasting on Capitol Hill aren’t sitting by and watching Tauzin’s tantrum without action. Representative David Bonior, Democrat of Michigan, is now circulating a draft letter to other Representatives in support of the FCC’s work, and plans to send it to the FCC on Wednesday, March 10.

This is a perfect opportunity to pre-empt Tauzin’s moves to kill low-power radio stations, provided Bonior can show enough signatures at the bottom of the letter. The strength is in numbers here – if the FCC has some sort of token nod from a large segment (or, perish the thought, a majority) of the House of Representatives, Chairman Kennard and the rest of the Commissioners would be sent a message that the “will of the people” is behind their actions. It could also send a nice, subtle message to Rep. Tauzin to back off. Read More

An Enemy End Run

In submarine battle tactics there is a maneuver called an “end run,” where a submarine basically either speeds up or slows down to maneuvers into a prime shooting position out of the detection range of its quarry.

It’s an attempt by someone to end the game by throwing out the rules; to get the drop on the enemy before they even have a chance to do anything about it.

An end run is happening right now in the form of Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin. He’s a Republican who the NAB has in its pocket – his daughter even works for them. Read More