Washington - Nov 19, 2009 - The Local Community Radio Act (S.592) was passed unanimously in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation with a voice vote. Both the Senate and House versions of the bill are on their way to full floor votes. The act seeks to repeal restrictions placed on low-power FM stations in 2000.
A press release from the Prometheus Project, a group that supports the efforts of low-power radio stations, cited the importance of allowing more low-power radio stations to operate because of their usefulness in times of emergency. While it's a valid point that low-power stations can serve a need to provide public information from a small setup operating on a portable generator, that is not the regular application of LPFM services.
Cory Fischer-Hoffman, Campaign Director for the Prometheus Radio Project said that disasters are not the only time when the public lacks access to local news.
Prometheus also notes that LPFM would provide another source of local programming specific to neighborhoods and towns.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee, also noted the potential of low-power radio in changing the face of media ownership.
The Local Community Radio Act is co-sponsored in the Senate by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John McCain (R-AZ). While this Senate legislation has passed out of committee in the previous two sessions, this year marks the first time that the House version passed through the House Subcommittee and Committee.