Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Who wants to start a radio station?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 4:49 PM

In case you missed this on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman interviewed Hannah Sassaman, a representative from Prometheus Radio Project, about the Senate's recent passage of The Local Community Radio Act. Once this bill finally becomes a law, it will expand the opportunity to capitalize on low-power FM service by thousands of new licensees.

What does that mean? According to Prometheus, it means that "non-profit organizations, local governments, churches, schools, and emergency responders" and so on will be able to apply for a license from the FCC to run a radio station that broadcasts to the immediately surrounding community.

The Local Community Radio Act will expand the low power FM (LPFM) service created by the FCC in 2000 — a service the FCC created to address the shrinking diversity of voices on the radio dial. Over 800 LPFM stations, all locally owned and non-commercial, are already on the air. ...

The bill repeals earlier legislation which had been backed by big broadcasters, including the National Association of Broadcasters. This legislation, the Radio Broadcast Preservation Act of 2000, limited LPFM radio to primarily rural areas. The broadcast lobby groups claimed that the new 100-watt stations could somehow create interference with their own stations, a claim disproven by a Congressionally-mandated study in 2003.

Congressional leaders worked for years to pass this legislation. As the clock wound down on the 111th Congress, they worked with the NAB to amend the bill to enshrine even stronger protections against interference and to ensure the prioritization of full power FM radio stations over low power stations.

Imagine, the public's airwaves being opened back up to the public.

AMY GOODMAN: How do people apply for these stations?

HANNAH SASSAMAN: So the FCC will open up what’s called a licensing window. We’re not sure exactly when. We at Prometheus are very excited to be working at the FCC to make a window happen as soon as possible. But now is the time to organize your group to think about what a community station can truly do in your town.

It will be exciting to see who in our community takes advantage of this new opportunity.

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