Low Power FM radio activists make a plea for stations in our cities — Will the Chairman tune in?

The Prometheus Radio Project, an organization that advocates for Low Power Radio Stations, welcomed tidings of a new ‘localism initiative’ from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). But despite small concessions Chairmain Powell made to Low Power Radio on Wednesday, Prometheus intends to pursue the lawsuit it filed last week with the Media Access Project against the FCC’s new ownership rules.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell launched his new “Localism in Broadcasting” initiative on August 20th, in response to a huge public push to protect diversity of voices by limiting the power of major media corporations. This public outcry came in response to the June 2nd vote at his FCC, a vote that moves to allow the nation’s biggest media corporations to own more outlets in America’s towns and cities. At a press conference in Washington, Powell promised to convene a panel to study issues of localism in our communities this fall — after the consolidated media rules established this summer go into effect.

Powell also planned to expedite the processing of Low Power FM (LPFM) radio licenses — praising them as a great way to support localism in communities across the country. He promised to speed up the LPFM licensing process, a process that his been slowed down by a lack of priority attention from the FCC leadership.

Earlier this week, the Prometheus Radio Project, represented by the Media Access Project, filed a lawsuit against the implementation of the new ownership rules. The lawsuit asks for a stay of the implementation of the rules, and brands the rules as a direct threat to localism and diversity in the American media system. “We welcome the Chairman’s renewed interest in low power radio —this is the best news we’ve heard in years,” said Pete Tridish, Technical Director of Prometheus. “Still, the Chairman’s efforts to divorce localism in media from ownership issues aren’t convincing in the least. It’s the power that consolidation of media ownership brought to corporations that helped to quash Low Power FM efforts in the first place. Our lawsuit is still on!”

The Low Power FM radio service was passed in 2000, but was quickly gutted in Congress after legislators were pressured by the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio to limit the reach of Low Power Radio. Congress imposed an additional protection standard for existing radio stations, and that standard kept 75% of potential LPFMs off the air, especially in major metropolitan areas. In July, a long anticipated engineering study came out which recommended lifting the additional restrictions made by Congress. “The study proved that the interference issue was never more than a lot of smoke and mirrors. If Powell wants to expand local radio, he should encourage the legislators who gutted it the first time to expand the service so it reaches the cities it was designed to serve,” noted Tridish.

Prometheus Radio Project -

For more information about efforts to achieve a low power radio license in Central Ohio, call 253-2571.

Appears in Issue: