Expanding community radio - LPFM bill reintroduced in Congress

On Wednesday, Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Lee Terry (R-NB) announced the introduction of the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 - Congress' latest attempt to expand Low Power FM community radio across the country. The Congressmen were joined by activist groups who have been leading a nationwide grassroots fight for community radio for years, including the Prometheus Radio Project and the Future of Music Coalition. Other cosponsors of the bill include longtime LPFM champion Jay Inslee (D-WA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX), and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA).

The bill would expand LPFM community radio nationwide, allowing hundreds of community groups, schools, municipalities and religious organizations to apply for new noncommercial radio licenses in cities and towns across the US.

Similar legislation failed to pass Congress last year, despite broad bipartisan support. Last year's House version of the bill garnered the support of nearly 100 cosponsors.

The Senate version of last year's bill was cosponsored by another longtime LPFM champion, Maria Cantwell (D-WA), along with John McCain (R-AZ), Senators Obama and Clinton, and others. The Senate is expected to take up the issue of LPFM once again this spring.

From this week's announcement issued by Prometheus and Free Press:

Low Power FM stations are community-based, noncommercial radio stations that broadcast to neighborhoods and small towns. LPFM licenses make radio station ownership possible for schools, churches, labor unions, local governments, emergency providers and other nonprofit groups to directly communicate with their local community. In 2000, the Federal Communications Commission began to issue LPFM licenses. However, soon after, Congress passed an unnecessary piece of legislation that drastically limited the radio spectrum available to LPFM stations. Since then, thousands of applications submitted to the FCC have been dismissed because of these limitations.

"Diverse, informative, thought-provoking, locally oriented programming has been dramatically restricted across the country by the current federal laws governing the separation between broadcast frequencies," said Congressman Doyle. "Enactment of this legislation would improve the quality of life in communities across the country by providing new and different programming -- especially programming addressing local interests and events -- to these communities."

The Prometheus Radio Project, a group that helps build LPFM stations across the country, is the leading advocate for community radio. Campaign Director Cory Fischer-Hoffman notes, “As media outlets are increasingly consolidated local voices are being forced off the airwaves; it is time for Congress to remove the unfair restrictions that stand in the way of community organizations, religious groups, students and senior citizens from getting their own LPFM stations. In this time of economic crisis, it is crucial that communities have access to important information and educational programming featuring local news, emergency information and community matters. Expanding LPFM is a concrete action that will provide this important service.”

Hmmm.

The initial concept sounds fine. Allowing "hundreds of community groups, schools, municipalities and religious organizations" to obtain low power, local non-commercial radio licenses.

Yet a paragraph later, someone tossed in "labor unions"...! So labor unions are now non-profits?? Why would any labor union NEED a non-commercial radio station??

Please, tell me. I wanna hear THIS "explanation"!

please check your information

unions are not for profit organizations.
Try understanding the differences in 501's and corporations before you show your ignorance.

As for community radio, I think the more voices expressing different points of view can only enrich people.

We should all fear any threat to our freedom of speech.

Unions make great radio station operators

In the Northwest, KPCN (Woodburn, OR) is a great example of a union-operated radio station that's providing essential services to its community - broadcasting not only in Spanish to a large immigrant population, but also in several other languages to serve the community there. It's also the only station in the area where working people can speak to each other about the cultural and political issues affecting their community.

Local news and information is an increasingly rare service on commercial radio stations - and where it is there, there may be a subtle or overt bias against the interests of working people and unions. In fact, the union in Woodburn (PCUN) had previously attempted to buy blocks of programming on a local commercial station, but were kicked off the air when local anti-union businesses raised objections to their employees having their own organizing forum on the air.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey