Statement: Congressman Mike Doyle Praises Low Power FM Radio Service

Congressman Mike Doyle Praises Low Power FM Radio Service

Diverse Groups Congratulate the Congressman for Leadership in Fight to Expand LPFM

Congressman Mike Doyle, a 7th-term Congressman from Pittsburgh, and the Vice Chair of Congress' Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, took a public opportunity to praise the low power FM service, as he keynoted the Future of Music Coalition's Technology and IP Day, the morning of Wednesday, May 2nd, in Washington, DC.

In front of a room of 150 musicians, advocates, journalists, industry insiders, and policymakers, Doyle strongly questioned the veracity of longtime claims made by big broadcasters – that low power FM (LPFM) radio stations, will interfere with full power stations in big cities like Pittsburgh.

As part of his opening keynote, where the Congressman discussed issues as various as net neutrality, digital broadcasting, and the rights of musicians when it comes to internet radio, Doyle stated: “An LPFM bill hasn’t been introduced yet in this Congress, but I am looking at the issue and wonder why – if a full-power broadcaster can have digital stations that don’t interfere with their main channel, even if the two are right next to each other on the dial – a low-power broadcaster will interfere with a full-power station that’s 3 channels away.”

The Prometheus Radio Project, a group that has been building low power FM, non-commercial, community radio stations in the United States, since 2000, strongly supports Congressman Doyle in challenging the claims long made by big broadcasters, when it comes to potential interference from LPFMs in big cities.

Congressman Doyle is absolutely right, and his comments are dead on,” said Prometheus Program Director Hannah Sassaman. “The technology that radio stations use to broadcast content on the FM dial has improved in the past decades. The FCC found that FM receivers are designed well-enough to allow us to make room for low power FM stations and full power radio in America's big cities. There is no potential for interference on the dial.

Just like with digital radio, the FCC moved to create the low power FM radio service in order to let community organizations make the best use of their own airwaves, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Petaluma, California. The FCC found, back in 2000, that there was plenty of room for low power FM in both big cities and rural communities.

After the larger broadcasters expressed concern about LPFM, Congress passed the Radio Broadcast Preservation Act of 2000, a law ordering the FCC to limit LPFM to towns like Altoona and Lebanon, rather than the larger neighborhoods of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Congress ordered the FCC to study the potential interference that might be caused by low power FM stations if they were on-air in big cities. Thousands of LPFM applicants, including universities and community groups in Pittsburgh, had their applications canceled as a result of this study.

The FCC commissioned the MITRE corporation, a major, independent firm, to conduct that study. 2.2 million dollars and three years later, MITRE came back – proving that there was negligible interference from LPFM and plenty of room for churches, schools, community groups and more to share their voices with in their communities.

Low power FM is a service endorsed by churches as well as Emergency Operations Centers; known for saving lives during Hurricane Katrina as well as helping Latino farmworkers and parent, teacher organizations speak every day to their communities. When Senators McCain and Cantwell introduced their low power FM radio bill in the last Congress, they were praised as heroes by groups as diverse as the Christian Coalition, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Consumers Union, the US Public Interest Research Group, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Congress members like Mike Doyle, who are willing to take a stand on finally bringing expanded LPFM to American communities, will be welcome members to their ranks.

As the Senate gets ready to introduce a new bill on low power FM radio, we congratulate and thank Congressman Doyle for leading his committee and America to a future that includes diverse voices, from coast to coast, on an FM dial that belongs to us. We encourage Congressman Doyle to introduce a bill to expand low power FM radio to the diverse communities of Pittsburgh, and far beyond,” concluded Hannah Sassaman.

Members of the coalition working to bring low power FM to America's rural and urban communities spoke up to congratulate and thank the Congressman, and joined Prometheus in encouraging him to work to expand low power FM.

Representative Doyle's keynote speech at the Future of Music Coaltion's Technology and IP Policy Day laid out a strong case for identifying specific policy initiatives that can directly benefit the music community,” said Michael Bracy, the Policy Director of the Future of Music Coalition. “We have long felt that eliminating the existing ban on licensing new LPFM stations in urban markets could significantly increase the diversity of music and the local voices heard on radio, and we applaud his interest exploring the issue further.

"The people of San Antonio have worked for a long time to get a radio station, but because of Congress' actions, we have been unable to build low power FM in our community," said Deanne Cuellar, coordinator for the Texas Media Empowerment Project, a diverse representation of local organizers and groups working for media justice in San Antonio, Texas. "We thank Congressman Doyle for taking a stand on low power FM, and encourage him to ask our own representative, Congressman Gonzalez, to also work to open the FM dial to the people who need to tell their stories on their own airwaves."

We thank Congressman Doyle for bringing the issue of low power FM radio back to the attention of the House of Representatives,” said Frannie Wellings, associate policy director of Free Press, the nonpartisan media reform group. “We hope he is the first of many to recognize that it is time for Congress to allow the FCC to expand the opportunities for communities that have been shut out for years from our nation’s airwaves, to create their own low power stations.”

"Low power radio is a positive step to bring much-needed diversity and localism to the airwaves,” said Cheryl Leanza, Managing Director of the United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc. “Over 800 churches and community groups around the country have availed themselves of this great program, but many thousands more still await Congressional action to move ahead. I am gratified to see Congressman Doyle speaking out on this issue.”

"Low power FM provides truly local and important news to the communities they serve,”Amina Fazlullah, Staff Attorney for Media and Telecommunications Reform for the United States Public Interest Research Group, said. “These stations strive to reach an audience that’s not adequately served by big corporate broadcasters and gives everyday citizens an opportunity to voice their opinions. We commend the Congressman’s support of this crucial media resource.”

Congressman Doyle is a leader on many media issues Common Cause cares about,” said Lauren Coletta, senior director of media programs at Common Cause, the nonpartisan nonprofit advocacy organization. “We appreciate his commitment to low power FM and look forward to working with him in moving these issues forward in this Congress.”