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Bills Would Ease LPFM Restrictions

LPFM backers in Congress are pushing again to make the FCC ease restrictions on low-power stations.

LPFM backers in Congress are pushing again to make the FCC ease restrictions on low-power stations.

Supporters conducted a national press call this week to draw attention to new proposals in both the House and Senate. They believe hundreds more LPFM stations could be in place if not for limitations that were created at the launch of the service at the behest of existing broadcasters.

Proponents want the commission to eliminate third-adjacent minimum distance separation requirements between LPFMs and other FMs.

The music group the Indigo Girls participated in the press call along with various interest groups. Legislation is sponsored by Reps. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., and Lee Terry, R-Neb., in the House, and Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and John McCain, R-Ariz., in the Senate.

According to a summary from the organizers, Rep. Doyle told the conference call, “Diverse, informative, thought-provoking, locally oriented programming has been dramatically restricted across the country by the current federal laws governing the separation between broadcast frequencies.”

Rep. Terry said, “There are several groups in the Omaha area that want to apply for an LPFM station.”

The general manager of Midwest Christian Media and founder of KHIS(LP) in Cape Girardeau, Mo., told the conference call, “The number of churches that could have been granted LPFM licenses could have been beyond 500 had the FCC been allowed to accept applications from more communities.”

Backers say when Congress authorized the FCC to issue LPFM licenses in 2000, it attached an “unnecessary rule that limited LPFM stations to rural areas. Since then, thousands who submitted applications with the FCC to operate their own stations have been blocked.” They pointed out that the FCC’s MITRE Study in 2003 found that increasing the number of LPFMs would not cause significant interference and that the FCC then urged Congress to repeal the restrictions.