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Dec 18 2010

Bill passes for Low-Power FM

The House of Representatives approved the Doyle-Terry Bill – H.R. 6533 Local Community Radio Act on Friday. The bill was introduced by U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle (PA-14 Forest Hills) and Lee Terry (NE-2) and allows community radio stations across the country to commence broadcasting.

In a press-release Congressman Doyle said, “This bill will allow churches, schools, neighborhood groups, and others to put community-oriented programming on the air – and it will help first responders provide those communities with critical information in times of natural disasters or other emergencies.”

In 2000, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued rules that would have allowed the establishment of thousands of low-power FM (LPFM) radio stations across the country. The FCC’s effort to promote diverse local voices on the radio dial was short-circuited later that year when Congress enacted “the Radio Broadcast Preservation Act.” This act put into place a rule that low-power FMs could only be spaced at least 4 intervals from existing full-power stations and effectively banned low-power stations from the 50 largest markets in the country. A study in 2003 concluded that reducing the separation between frequencies from four to three wouldn’t cause interference with existing full-power signals.

A different version of the Local Community Radio act (HR 1147) was passed a year ago, but it stalled in the Senate. 

Congressman Doyle is optimistic that the act will be enacted into law before the end of the 111th Congress.