Congress should pass the Local Community Radio Act

Seattle Times:

Congress should not waste any time when it returns from its Thanksgiving recess on a bill that would allow for local radio programming to flourish. There is no good reason not to pass the Local Community Radio Act before year end.

The bill, which was passed by the House Commerce Committee on Oct. 15 and the Senate Commerce Committee last week, would clear the way for low-power FM (LPFM) stations to fill the dead air between commercial stations on the radio dial.

In 2002, Congress allowed for a small number of LPFM stations in the face of opposition from corporate radio, which dominates the airwaves. These LPFM stations proved wrong the accusations that stations with a limited reach using available spectrum interfered with their full-power neighbor stations.

The legislation has broad bipartisan support. Washington's U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell introduced the Senate bill and Reps. Cathy McMorris, R-Spokane, and Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, signed onto the House version.

These stations, which would have a reach of only a few miles, go a long way to filling the local-programming void left because of the consolidation that took place after the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The Local Community Radio Act will allow for diverse programming that can be tailored to the wants and needs of communities across the country. Congress need not waste any more time.

article originally published at Seattle Times.

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