12.20.10

Senate Passes Leahy-Backed Bill To Allow For More Locally-Controlled Broadcast Stations

WASHINGTON (Monday, Dec. 20, 2010) – In a rare weekend session, the Senate Saturday unanimously approved legislation to increase the number of frequencies available for Low Power FM (LPFM) radio stations, providing an outlet for hyper-local, independent noncommercial broadcasting.  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has been a proponent of the legislation in each of the last three Congresses.

“By using low power stations, community groups can access underutilized spectrum and provide content tailored to smaller communities,” said Leahy.  “This legislation is important because LPFM stations provide opportunities for local organizations to serve local communities.  Vermont has LPFM stations serving local communities in Vermont from Hyde Park to Brattleboro to Warren.  There is room for more.”

In 2001, Congress restricted the number of potential LPFM stations.  Congress also required the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to study whether such operation would cause harmful interference to full power FM radio stations.  After conducting the study, the FCC recommended modifications to the law to eliminate these restrictions on LPFM stations.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) supports the legislation, known as the Local Community Radio Act.  The bill passed the House of Representatives last week, and will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.

There are currently 11 LPFM stations operating in Vermont. 

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Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,

On Passage Of H.R. 6533,
The Local Community Radio Act Of 2010

December 18, 2010

 

I have long argued in favor of greater diversity and localism in broadcasting.  Today, Congress takes a positive step by making available more radio broadcast outlets for local content. 

I am pleased that Congress has finally passed and sent to the President the Local Community Radio Act, which will increase the number of frequencies available for Low Power FM (LPFM) radio stations.  I am a cosponsor of the Senate version of this legislation, and have been an original cosponsor of similar legislation in each of the previous two Congresses.  I commend Senator Cantwell for her hard work in reaching an agreement with full power broadcasters that will ensure they are protected. 

The rash of nationwide consolidation we have witnessed in the broadcast industry over the last decade has been alarming, if predictable.  Low Power FM stations offer a valuable counterweight to this trend.  By using low power stations, community groups can access underutilized spectrum and provide content tailored to smaller communities.  The Local Community Radio Act rolls back unnecessary restrictions that have limited the number of frequencies on which LPFM stations can operate.

This legislation is important because LPFM stations provide opportunities for local organizations to serve local communities.  Vermont has 11 LPFM stations serving local communities in Vermont from Hyde Park to Brattleboro to Warren.  There is room for more in Vermont and across the country. 

Low Power FM provides the opportunity for truly local content to flourish, and today’s legislation will make more such stations available. 

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David Carle: 202-224-3693