Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't Let the NAB Strangle Local Radio

Community radio station advocates have fought for 10 years to free up unused spaces on the FM dial for new, local and independent radio stations. Today, Congress is on the cusp of sending the Local Community Radio Act to the president. If signed, this bill would clear the way for hundreds, if not thousands, of new FM (known as LPFM) stations in cities and towns nationwide.

But one of the most powerful lobbying forces in Washington, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), is standing in the way.

The NAB represents the interests of powerful broadcast conglomerates, the sort of companies that have drowned the airwaves in cookie-cutter playlists and talk personalities while downsizing local content. This consolidation of ownership of radio licenses helped ushered in an era of nationally syndicated radio voices including Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

In a last-ditch effort to keep their stranglehold on the public airwaves, these corporate lobbyists have strong-armed a few Senators to place holds on the bill and keep local voices off the air. They claimed that a station at 3 clicks away on the dial or closer to a bigger station would cause interference, despite years of engineering study and practice proving that this was not true.

We need more voices and choices on the air. Without LPFM stations local music and culture may disappear from the dial completely. Coverage of local politics or crises has dwindled to a point of near irrelevance. LPFM stations could create a new forum for local political discourse.

The NAB must stop blocking access to the public airwaves and make local radio a reality for millions of people.

Sign and Retweet this petition to take action right now and join the new radio pioneers at Prometheus Radio Project to return local spectrum to the locals.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Damning Praise for Genachowski's Plan

For those keeping score, the phone and cable companies seem generally pleased with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s Net Neutrality proposal.

If any questions remain about with whom the chairman has sided in the debate, read on:

Time Warner Cable:
We would like to commend Chairman Genachowski, and everyone at the Commission, who have worked tirelessly to craft what we believe to be a fair resolution to these complex and controversial policy issues. We also want to thank the many Members of Congress who, on a bipartisan basis, urged the Commission to take a less regulatory path in order to ensure that the Internet continues its vibrant growth and development.
We believe Chairman Genachowski’s proposal, as described this morning, strikes a workable balance between the needs of the marketplace and the certainty that carefully-crafted and limited rules can provide to ensure that Internet freedom and openness are preserved.
Based on our understandings, this measure would avoid onerous Title II regulation; would be narrowly drawn along the lines of a compromise we have endorsed previously; would reject limits on our ability to properly manage our network and efficiently utilize our wireless spectrum; would recognize the capabilities and limitations of different broadband technologies; would ensure specialized services are protected against intrusive regulation; and would provide for a case-by-case resolution of complaints that also encourages non-governmental dispute settlement.
Verizon appreciates the efforts of Chairman Genachowski to seek a consensus on the contentious issue of net neutrality… [W]e urge the commissioners to recognize the limitations of the current statute and the rapidly changing conditions in the marketplace and make any rules it adopts interim, rather than permanent. Specifically, the commission should consider the framework of the Waxman proposal, including its sunset provision.