Attempts to expand Low Power FM's reach.
The Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, performed to a packed room of about 150 congressional lawmakers, staffers and interest-group representatives, gathered to hear the artists and to learn more about proposed legislation designed to expand Low Power FM's reach across the country and to elevate the broadcast service's status.
The proposed legislation—the Community Radio Act of 2005—is currently only in draft form, but will be introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D., N.Y., in about two weeks, according to her spokesman, Karl Frisch.
Frisch told Billboard Radio Monitor the bill will charge the FCC with using "every means available to protect the 600 [LPFM] stations currently operating" against encroachment by larger stations.
The draft language of the bill will also request that the FCC "make available as rapidly as possible the remaining thousands of LPFM licenses for the rest of the country, and that the public's interest will be taken into account as these licenses are distributed." The draft language emphasized the importance of taking the public's interest into account, but didn't include any specifics on the subject.
Thursday morning, (June 9), Rep. Slaughter, Rep. Mary Bono, D, Calif. and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D, Ill., spoke to the gathering in support of the legislation that Slaughter said will protect LPFMs from being bought out by a few "mega owners."
Rep. Schakowsky echoed that point when she told the crowd, "It’s critical that we protect LPFM from being bought out by a few big corporations." The congresswoman also specifically raised the issue of alleged illegal trafficking in FM translator applications by three "front companies" she said made an $800,000 profit. The lawmaker called the events a "scandal" and said she was disturbed "not only" by the profit from "selling the public's spectrum, but they also sold it to people with only one point of view."
Other speakers included former full-power radio broadcaster Jim Price, who now owns and operates southern gospel WBFC-LP (103.7) in Boynton, Ga. Price said that, without help from legislation, his secondary-status LPFM may be forced off the air by the encroachment of a full-power FM that he says has chosen to move onto the 103.7 frequency.
Other speakers included Common Cause president Chellie Pingree and Jenny Toomey and Michael Bracy from the Future of Music Coalition.