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LPFM Seems Eclipsed by DTV Actions

Boucher, meantime, says he has no interest in bringing back the Fairness Doctrine

So guess what’s not on the minds of congressional aides as a new legislative session gears up? Low-power FM.

I attended the NAB State Leadership meeting last week, where a panel comprising congressional aides to leaders of the House and Senate Commerce Committees — the bodies that govern media regulation — gave attendees insight into subjects that affect radio and TV on which their bosses are spending their time.

When asked whether LPFM would see a commitment this year, meaning to ending third-adjacent channel protection for full-power FMs to carve out more allocations for low-power radio — legislation to do so has been re-introduced — two aides said: “We’re keeping an eye on the issue,” before moving on to another topic.

That sounded pretty lukewarm to me, so I asked a communications attorney who was also in the room with me about it. He also thought the response was interesting given that LPFM supporters are “everywhere” in Washington these days, lobbying.

It may be just a lack of attention due to the amount of time and resources currently being devoted to the DTV transition, a topic that is front and center on the Hill this spring. Virginia Democrat Rick Boucher, chairman of the House Telecom Subcommittee, twice drew raucous applause when he said he didn’t think the DTV transition date would be extended again, past June, and that his telecom subcommittee has no interest in bringing back the Fairness Doctrine.