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Low-power FM proponents gained a victory on Capitol Hill as lawmakers debated amendments to the Telecom Act.
Members of the Senate Commerce Committee have passed by 14-7 an amendment by Republican John McCain and Democrat Maria Cantwell to drop third-channel protections of full-power FMs in order to fit more low-power stations into markets. An exemption for New Jersey was included by Democrat Frank Lautenberg.
Full-power noncoms that carry radio reading services on their subcarriers are exempt and would receive third-adjacent channel protections.
NAB lobbied hard against the LPFM language and distributed e-mailed MP3 recordings of purported third-adjacent channel interference.
The Prometheus Radio Project said the vote “marks a major step towards the expansion of low-power FM radio to the large cities of the United States, and potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of other communities across this country.”
The amendment was one of several debated as the committee revised the Senate version of the telecom reform measure.
No floor vote is yet set for the measure. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has put a “hold” on the bill to keep it from reaching the floor for reasons unrelated to the radio provisions.