Washington - Sep 17, 2009 - In the first Congressional oversight hearing since the three new FCC Commissioners took office, all five Commissioners have expressed support for the Local Community Radio Act (HR 1147/S592). FCC Chairman Genachowski and Commissioners Baker and Clyburn expressed their support for the bill in a hearing with the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. Introduced by Rep. Mike Doyle (PA) and Rep. Lee Terry (NE) in February 2009, the bill would repeal a 2003 law that restricts low-power FM (LPFM) because of adjacent-channel considerations.
According to the Prometheus Radio Project, this is the third time that the Commission has unanimously requested that Congress return authority to the FCC to manage third-adjacent channel restrictions on LPFM. The restrictions were imposed by Congress in 2000 in response to concerns that LPFMs could cause interference to full power stations. The group cites a 2003 congressionally mandated engineering study that shows that LPFMs do not harm full-power stations. The bill awaits a mark-up in the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Technology and the Internet.
Currently, LPFM stations are licensed to government, churches, emergency responders and other noncommercial organizations. They have a maximum power of 100 watts. Prometheus says that more than 800 local organizations operate LPFM.