While health care reform has seemed to dominate the Congress for all of 2010 thus far, community radio enthusiasts have been waiting for action on the Senate version of the Local Community Radio Act. The House passed its version back in mid-December and now the full Senate is set to take up their bill during the spring term, although the exact date is still up in the air.
If passed the Act would restore low-power community radio to the standards the FCC originally set for the service when it was created. These standards were made stricter by Congress at the behest of the National Association of Broadcasters via a last-minute addition to an omnibus budget bill at the very close of 2000. As a result many of the country’s largest radio markets with dials too full for new full-power stations were also deprived of the chance to have new low-power community stations. Now the hope to realize the full potential of LPFM is greater than it’s been since December, 2000.
Because the Local Community Radio Act has the support of several high-ranking senators, the LPFM advocacy group Prometheus Radio Project predicts “quick movement to pass this bill through Unanimous Consent.”