May 8, 2000
In January, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a plan to
license low power (or "micro") radio stations in many areas of the country,
largely due to a campaign waged by a diverse coalition of public interest
groups, churches and labor unions. The FCC planned to begin the licensing
process for non-commercial radio stations operating at 10 watts and 100
However, an intense lobbying effort by the broadcast industry threatens to
severely restrict the prospects for low power radio. The effort, which
included National Public Radio (NPR), culminated in H.R. 3439, the "Radio
Preservation Act," which passed in the House of Representatives on April
If approved by the Senate, this legislation will have a dramatic impact: it
will reduce the number of possible low-power stations by about 80 percent,
delay the FCC's implementation of its plan to license any low power
stations, and require a new round of technical tests that many public
interest groups insist are unnecessary.
Advocates for low power radio argue that the wave of concentration in the
radio industry, especially since the Telecommunications Act of 1996,
underscores the need for local, non-commercial broadcasters that better
serve the public interest.
The Senate is expected to debate the bill to undermine the FCC's low power
radio program (S.2068) in the next few weeks. This gives advocates for
greater diversity on the airwaves a chance to communicate with their elected
officials about the FCC's low power radio plan.
ACTION: Contact your senators and ask them to vote against S.2068, the
broadcast industry's effort to stifle low power radio. Tell them that
greater access to the airwaves, especially in a time of overwhelming media
concentration, is an important first step toward a more democratic media
To locate your senator's e-mail address, go to:
The Senate switchboard number is 202-224-3121.
As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if
you maintain a polite tone. Please cc your correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more background on low power radio, go to:
Media Access Project
Low Power Radio Coalition
FCC: "Frequently Asked Questions About Low-Power FM Radio"