Study Reveals NAB and NPR Lied to Congress

The five-year policy battle over low-power community radio (LPFM) took an interesting turn this week, with the long-delayed release of a Congressionally-mandated study on LPFM interference. The study, ordered as part of the industry-supported Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 2000, is a powerful refutation of claims by the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio, who had argued that low-power FM signals would interfere with higher-power comercial signals on adjacent frequencies. The study, completed months ago, was released this week only after a Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent complaints from LPFM advocates.

Earlier in 2000, the FCC had instituted LPFM as a way of creating thousands of noncommercial community radio licenses - responding to nationwide activism and already acknowledging the damage to programming diversity caused by the 1996 Telecom Act, Still, a combined NAB/NPR disinformation campaign successfully convinced Congress to overrule the FCC, virtually banning LPFM from most of the country's population centers. Although pirate broadcasters have clearly demonstrated the possiblity of interference-free broadcasing on forbidden "second-adjacent" frequencies (as during the Reclaim the Media conference in Seattle), the new study's release provides new evidence it will be harder for the Congress - and the current FCC - to ignore.

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