Tales of the Sausage Factory

Big Low Power FM Win!

Back in 2007, the FCC issued an Order to try to address some of the problems impacting the low-power FM (LPFM) service. You can find out more about how amazing LPFM is, and why Congress needs to pass legislation to remove the artificial restrictions on how many LPFM stations we can have, here on the Prometheus Radio website.

Briefly, LPFMs are very small, very local non-commercial stations that operate at 100-watts or less. The FCC authorized the service in 2000, relaxing the “third adjacent channel” (A radio station must be 3 jumps away from the next radio station) rule to permit several thousand LPFM’s to operate without interfering with full power station. The NAB persuaded Congress to reverse this determination with the ironically named Radio Broadcaster Preservation Act of 2000. That act prohibited the FCC from relaxing or waiving the 3rd adjacent channel spacing requirement.

A few years ago, it became clear that the several hundred LPFMs permitted under the act were in danger of being crowded out by full power stations. Because of what appeared to be an unrelated decision to streamline the process by which full power FM stations can change their market designation. As a result, an LPFM could suddenly find itself impermissibly close to a full power station and need to shut down. Or it might start experiencing interference and get drowned out. The Commission therefore issued an Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which provided some relief by making it easier for LPFMs to relocate on the 2nd adjacent channel, thus avoiding Congress’ mandate that the FCC not reduce or waive the separation distance required on the 3rd adjacent channel. This is not nearly as silly as it sounds, as the process involves a fact-based determination on whether there is actually any interference to any full power as a result of the move. Given how interference works, it is very possible to fit a LPFM into space on the 2nd adjacent without causing interference. Spacing is based on averages to make processing applications easier. Actual engineering can determine how to place a low-power tower to avoid interference. Mind, this would be easier to do if Congress hadn’t absolutely prohibited any waiver of 3rd adjacent spacing. But they did. Happily, however, Congress did not prohibit any waiver of 2nd channel adjacent.

The NAB promptly appealed, arguing that the FCC had no authority to alter first,second or third adjacent as a result of the 2000 Act. This, in turn, stalled the conclusion of the Rulemaking, since why finish a rulemaking if you don’t even know whether or not you have authority?

Today, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the FCC’s decision. It rejected the NAB’s argument based on the plain language of the statute and found that the FCC had rationally justified its decision.

This is extremely good news for LPFM, and for those communities lucky enough to have them. As acting Chairman Copps noted in a statement issued today after the ruling, the FCC is now free to move quickly to finish the pending rulemaking. And, of course, Congress should move just as quickly to pass the Local Community Radio Act of 2009, so that hundreds of new communities can enjoy the diverse voices of low-power FM.

My former colleagues at MAP — especially Parul Desai who did the lion’s share of work on this issue — deserve a huge shout out for this win. I should also mention that it was not a Democratic FCC, but Kevin Martin who brought the 2007 Order to a vote — and then voted with the Democrats against both his fellow Republicans to get the needed 3 votes to clear the Commission.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Media Ownership, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

My Thoughts Exactly

Internet Radio Danger Deja Vu all over again

A little over a year ago we blogged here on wetmachine about the mean nasty RIAA evildoers and how and why they were planning to kill Internet radio because the RIAA is an organization dedicated to promoting corporate control of everything you can hear, and thus hates Net radio because it makes them burn, burn, BURN when you hear new music and artists are fairly compensated and everybody is happy.

Last year I thought we had put them in the box, but oh noes! they’re back like Freddy Kruger, as I found out by this letter from Tim from Pandora, asking for support in getting Senators to support an important bit of legislation under discussion RIGHT NOW. Go to SaveNetRadio.org for info on how to help save Net radio by giving the right message to your senators.

Information on how to contact Massachusetts Senators is here. I just called them. Kennedy’s office says they’re looking into it, reading the legislation. Kennedy had not announced a position yet. The guy on the phone told me they’re getting a lot of calls. Good. Let’s give them some more. Kerry is a co-sponsor, so he’s cool.

Please call your senators. If they’re not hip, help them to get hip. If they’re cool, say “thank you.” Please do it right away. It took me about 1 minute, total, for both calls.

Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

General Exception

The War on the Consumer: Congress to Pass Secret DRM Law?

I guess I’ll make this into a reoccurring feature, since everyone seemed to like the last one I did, and it seems we have no end of stupidity from media companies and their hired hands.

So, let’s see what the media companies have been shopping for in Washington. I bet there’s a lot of post-Holidays sales of legislation going on…

Read More »

Posted in General, General Exception | Also tagged , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

A Win in Florida

According to my friends at Free Press, the forces of municipal broadband won a major victory in Florida. Following a nasty legislative fight in the heart of Bell South territory, the Republican dominated legislature saw fit to impose only one condition on municipal broadband — annual reports.

Score since PA: Public interest- 3, Incumbents-0, Tie-1 (WV, where positive legislation was neutralized)

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)
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