Inside the Smoke-Filled Room

November’s elections are just around the corner, and as the hype on the campaign trail intensifies, Congress is still “at work” in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Senate is hammering out the federal budget; it approves it in pieces, as separate spending bills that lay out just how much each federal government agency gets to spend over the next fiscal year.

Unfortunately, budget bills not only get loaded down with “pork” (extraneous money seen as gifts Congressfolk get for their specific states or districts), they’re also notorious vehicles for politicians to ram laws through Congress that wouldn’t survive the normal approval procedure (like committee meetings, public hearings, etc.). Read More

Senate Moves to Kill

Congress is back “at work” in Washington, and the radio broadcast lobby has intensified its effort to kill the FCC’s new low power FM (LPFM) proposal through legislation.

It’s been nearly a half-year since the National Association of Broadcasters, conspiring with National Public Radio and others, convinced the House of Representatives to pass a bill drastically gutting the LPFM plan.

Since then, getting action in the Senate has been less successful. The original bill the NAB’s Senate puppets introduced, S. 2068, lost steam after gathering 36 cosponsors. Read More

On the Cusp

As often happens in Washington, there’s a flurry of activity on an issue – then it drops from the spotlight for a while. Such has been the case with low power radio.

Ever since Arizona Senator John McCain threw up a Congressional roadblock on the greased rails that the National Association of Broadcasters had built for a bill to ban the FCC’s re-legalization of low power FM stations, activity on Capitol Hill has dropped off.

Originally, many “inside the Beltway” felt that McCain’s introduction of a separate LPFM bill – allowing the FCC’s plan to continue yet opening up the new stations to huge lawsuits from commercial broadcasters, – was just a holding action designed to drain off the NAB’s lobbying momentum. Read More

The McCain Mystery

On May 30, the FCC will begin taking applications for the first new low power FM radio licenses to be issued since the agency initially banned them more than 30 years ago. Would-be broadcasters in 11 states and the Mariana Islands will get first crack at the 100-watt LPFM licenses; the first station could go on the air as early as August.

Yet a battle rages in Congress to kill the service before it even gets off the ground. So far, 34 Senators have signed onto anti-LPFM legislation that the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved (with some changes) in mid-April.

But the broadcast lobby’s momentum appears to be slowing. It only takes 51 votes to pass a bill in the Senate (compared to 218 needed in the House) and the number of Senators committed to the bill stalled at around 30 for nearly a month. Read More

The Senate Skirmish

After a short breather thanks to a Congressional recess, both friends and foes of the FCC’s new low power radio plan have regrouped and are beginning to reorganize their efforts in the fight for LPFM’s survival.

The Senate is now back in session, and while action on a bill to kill low power radio in the House of Representatives was quick, all signs point to a much slower go in the second Congressional forum.

The Senate anti-LPFM bill remains in its Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, whose chairman is none other than Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), failed Presidential contender and radio industry friend. Read More