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NAB still using misinformation to defeat low-power radio expansion

The National Association of Broadcasters has never been a friend to low-power community radio. Back in 2000, when the FCC first created the service, the NAB did everything it could to try and keep it from becoming a reality. While the broadcast lobby failed to stop it outright, the NAB did succeed in getting Congress to significantly curtail LPFM with a last-minute attachment to an omnibus budget bill passed in December of that year. One of the weapons the NAB used was a bogus CD that purported to demonstrate harmful interference caused by low-power stations, that was later disproved by an independent report ordered by Congress.

While the NAB isn’t pushing the interference claim quite as hard this time around, the lobby hasn’t given up on using disinformation. Radio Survivor has obtained an email sent out to unnamed Senators by the NAB on November 30 in which the organization claims that the Local Community Radio Act (S.592) isn’t even necessary to put more LPFM stations on the air. Without explanation or evidence, in the email the NAB claims that,

Currently, thousands of slots are available across the country for new low power stations. The Federal Communications Commission could license these frequencies to any group or organization today, without any change in policy.

Quite simply, that contention is untrue. However, even if there are some unused LPFM-appropriate frequencies in sparsely populated areas, more important is the fact that the Local Community Radio Act aims to permit LPFM stations in cities where there are none, because they are not permitted under the existing, curtailed rules.

Apparently the NAB is using this claim as part of its campaign to get Republican senators to place anonymous holds on the bill, and it seems to be working. Four previously anonymous holders were identified so far this year, and once their names were out in the open, the holds disappeared. At least one good reason for this is that once the Senator placing the hold is known pro-LPFM groups can reach out to him and provide the whole story.

The last one outed was Wyoming Sen. Joe Barrasso, who released his hold a few weeks ago. But there are still more anonymous holds keeping the bill from moving forward for a proper vote by the full Senate.

With less than a month left in this session of Congress time is running out to pass the Local Community Radio Act. The Prometheus Radio Project is asking LPFM advocates to call the president of the NAB, Gordon Smith, and ask him to “please stop blocking LPFM.” His number is 202-429-5449. Prometheus is also asking anyone who calls to let them know how the call went by emailing them at

The full text of the NAB email to senators is after the jump:

From: National Association of Broadcasters []

Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:06 PM


Subject: Broadcaster concerns with S.592

Your office may have heard recently from some organizations regarding S.592 – the Local Community Radio Act.

As currently drafted, S. 592 is of concern to your local broadcasters. In an effort to ensure reliable protections against signal interferences, the radio broadcasting industry has been working to ensure modest changes to the legislative language. Despite this, proponents are trying to push the bill through the Senate.

While supporters of S.592 may have expressed a desire for expanding low power radio licenses, please know that there are many other voices in this debate and an expansion of licenses needs to be balanced against existing low and full power operators. Currently, thousands of slots are available across the country for new low power stations. The Federal Communications Commission could license these frequencies to any group or organization today, without any change in policy.

We hope you will keep these facts in mind and the concerns of your local broadcasters as you review this legislation. For more information, feel free to contact the National Association of Broadcasters Government Relations department at (202) 429-7150.

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7 Responses to NAB still using misinformation to defeat low-power radio expansion

  1. philipgoetz December 9, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Clear Channel’s stock is down. The Texas Association of Broadcasters convention (August 2010) showed spectrum being limited even more. Wireless and online is a wild wild west that doesn’t know the difference between indecency, obscenity or equal opportunity and rules. Broadcasters were asked to follow all the rules, go digital (Feb 2009), realign (ASAP) and at the convention in August, to just turn in their licenses. If there’s no money left in broadcasting then there’s no money left for the NAB to hand over to politicians to forward their causes politically. Is there money left in broadcasting for non-profits? I’ve written about legal radio. I’ve done legal radio. I’ve followed the rules. The NAB saying that “thousands of slots are available across the country for new low power stations” is true but it’s a bad kind of true. In 2001 in the top 50 radio markets there was one frequency available. Those thousands of slots are in rural areas. Broadcasting in a five to seven mile radius brings a greater audience in the bigger markets. He who cannot be trusted with much cannot be trusted with little. We’re just asking to be trusted with a little bit here.

  2. Jim Linthicum December 10, 2010 at 5:52 am #

    The NAB is for the Big Boys in broadcasting (Clear Channel and all of the other cluster conglomerates) They are the ones who suck up small town stations and move them to larger municipalities leaving the city of license of the aquired station in a state of nothing more than lip service….hence the need for LOCALLY ORIGINATING community radio

    The NAB will stop at nothing to get what they want. They no longer hold up their Televsion Code,Radio Code which at one time support moral and tradiotional family vaues They are greedy rabid-ass hypocrites!

  3. Richard Baldwin,M.D. December 10, 2010 at 8:32 am #

    Commercial Radio “stinks”. Noncommercial Radio FM radio was once great listening before it became commercial. Greed ruins everything it gets it’s hands on!

  4. philipgoetz December 10, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    The NAB was stopped yesterday. Texas Senator John Cornyn has backed the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 despite NAB’s wishes.

  5. Richard Smith December 11, 2010 at 9:49 am #

    The real danger with S592 in its present form is Section 7 which calls for an economic study that LPFM has on commercial FM. This latest NAB initiative is similar to the one introduced in the House bill, wherein a $2.2 million two year study was required to comfirm there was no interference caused by LPFM stations, a conslucion that common sense and engineering savy would have concluded without a study. What possible ecconomic consequences on commercial stations could LPFM have? Perhaps a loss of listners? Balderdash!

  6. John Henry December 12, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    Low Power FM is good for the American people. We need more low power FM in big cities. Low power FM gives the American people more choices to hear different views for example the truth about American history, the truth about the palistinian lands and how the Jews are killing this palistinian people on their own land with American arms. These are the facts!

  7. John Anderson December 13, 2010 at 11:00 pm #

    Within any good lie there is a little grain of truth. The NAB are referring to the as-yet unrealized LP-10 stations, which neither the FCC nor LPFM advocates have actively lobbied for the implementation of…10 years on.

    Now, there wouldn’t be “thousands” of LP-10 stations allowed under the current rule, but there would be more LPFM stations on the air than we have now. Which might have given this latest lobbying effort to pass the LCRA a bit louder voice.

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