U.S. Legislation Advances for Low-Power Radio

Measure Seen as Boost for Local Communities

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 26, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Legislation backed by the U.S. bishops' conference expanding low-power FM radio service was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee.



"Low-power radio offers diverse programming that reflects the needs and interests of local communities," said Bishop Gerald Kicanas, chairman of the episcopal Communications Committee.

"It can connect the homebound to their churches, parents and students to their local schools, youths to outreach programs, citizens to town meetings," he said. "It can ensure that the public interest is better served by allowing local organizations to broadcast local information in their communities."

Low-power FM stations (LPFM) are community-based, non-commercial radio stations that operate at 100 watts or less -- generally broadcasting to an area within a few miles of the tower.

Congress restored LPFM service in 2000, allowing small community-based organizations to apply for licenses to broadcast news and information of local concern. More than 50 Catholic-affiliated organizations across the country operate LPFM stations, and others have applied for licenses.

Concerns about possible interference raised by commercial radio interests were found to be unwarranted by a study released by the Federal Communications Commission, which called for Congress to lift restrictions on the service imposed in 2000.

Senators John McCain of Arizona and Patrick Leahy of Vermont introduced legislation in June to enact the FCC's recommendations. The Low Power FM Radio Act was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee on Friday, allowing for consideration by the full Senate.