Support for Local Programming Expands

Clergy and people of faith tell FCC to keep low power radio local!

Seventy clergy and nearly 250 people of faith called on the FCC on Tuesday to ensure that low power radio licenses go to genuinely local groups. In a petition filed on Oct 30, the United Church of Christ and religious people of diverse faiths asked the FCC to require new low power stations to broadcast some local programming each week. 

Why is a local programming requirement so important? 

When the FCC created the low power radio service in 2000, large religious networks found a loophole in the FCC's localism rules by putting the names of local churches on the license applications. When the licenses were granted, many of the churches aired the network programming 24/7, with no local voices or even a local studio. Because there are no requirements for local programming, these stations aren't breaking any rules. But there are many religious and community groups that want to start radio stations to serve their local communities, to cover local issues and music and to provide disaster response during emergencies. These groups won't have a chance if all the licenses are awarded to network-affiliated groups. That's why the seventy clergy and others have called on the FCC to create rules to keep local radio local. It's also why Prometheus has been fighting for a local programming requirement for months (we propose 20 hours per week). 

Additionally, In September and October, Prometheus met with FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn as well as staff across several FCC offices to talk about the needs of community radio applicants. The FCC is still writing the new rules for low power radio, and we've been working to ensure that the licensing process is fair and allows for as many new stations as possible. We expect the FCC to release new rules by the end of November, and the licensing window could come as early as Summer 2013. Stay tuned for updates!