Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed the Local Community Radio Act, and the bill will now be sent to the White House for President Obama’s signature. This act will expand the low power FM (LPFM) service created by the FCC in 2000 – a service the FCC created to address the shrinking diversity of voices on the radio dial. Over 800 LPFM stations, all locally owned and non-commercial, are already on the air. The stations are run by churches, schools, non-profit organizations, local governments, and emergency responders.
The bill repeals restrictions on LPFM stations put in place by Congress in 2000 at the behest of commercial broadcasters. The restrictions unfairly limit the frequencies available to LPFMs by allowing low power stations on every fourth frequency instead of every third. This means that if there is a full power station on 91.3 MHz, an LPFM station must be 800 kHz away on the dial at 92.1 MHz, instead of 600 kHz away, at 91.9 MHz. These restrictions are called third adjacency restrictions, because 91.9 MHz is the third adjacent channel, and 92.1 MHz is the fourth. The Local Community Radio Act allows LPFMs on third adjacent channels across the US.
Commercial broadcasters claimed that allowing LPFM stations stations to transmit only 600 kHz away from their stations would cause interference. A $2.2 million study conducted by the MITRE Corporation, however, disputed these claims. The results of the study so conclusively debunked the claims of commercial broadcasters that Congress stopped the study early to avoid unnecessarily spending more taxpayer money. In short, the study found that interference between low power stations and full power on third adjacent channels is not an issue.
Many different groups worked on getting this bill passed. They include the Prometheus Radio Project, Future of Music Coalition, Media and Democracy Coalition, Media Access Project, National Hispanic Media Coalition, United Church of Christ Office of Communication, Inc., U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Christian Coalition, Catholic Radio Association, MoveOn.org, ColorOfChange.org, New America Foundation, Media and Democracy Coalition and others.
While this news is not specifically ham-radio related, but it is radio-related, and I can see some hams becoming involved with and providing technical support for community-based, low-power radio stations around the country. What do you think?
Here a some links to get more info on LPFM: