The FCC voted unanimously Friday to allow for more low-power
FM stations, particularly in urban areas where adjacent-channel restrictions
had restricted their numbers. While it was not a TV issue, it was an item about
increased media ownership and media voices diversity, an issue FCC chairman
Julius Genachowski was been criticized about in the TV space.
Genachowski pointed out that the vote was an example of
Republicans and Democrats working together to create new opportunities for
programming and diversity everywhere, rural and urban. He called it "a big
step to empower community voices, promote media diversity and enhance local
programing." Genachowski said he knew.
To make that point, and in an unusual move for an FCC public
meeting, Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) both members of the
House Communications Subcommittee and principal backers of boosting low-power
FM opportunities via the Local Community Radio Act, appeared at the meeting and
spoke in glowing terms about the commission's radio diversity initiative. It
was an unusual appearance, a point made by commissioner Robert McDowell, who
said of the legislators' presence. "It is a rare opportunity to be
directly overseen by our overseers."
Doyle said LPFM was a tough fight in Congress and thanked
the FCC for its action. "You guys did it, and you did it right," said
Terry. He called it a big deal, and said it would provide a "tapestry of
voices that is really going to enhance communities and culture."
Craig Aaron, president of Free Press, one of those who have
criticized the FCC over what he sees as a rush to vote on TV and radio media
ownership rule revisions without sufficiently vetting their impact on
diversity, tweeted Friday as the FCC prepared the LPFM vote: "Hey @FCC,
doesn't it feel great when you do something for the public? Glad to see #LPFM
order. Can't wait to hear new voices on the air!"
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said the LPFM diversity item
would create a communications landscape "more reflective of the greatness
of this nation." She said radio remains a vital tool for the needs of the
nation, citing emergency information access during Hurricane Sandy. Commissioner
Jessica Rosenworcel said there was "still great value and art in community
broadcasting." She called Terry one of the true heroes of community
broadcasting, added that she should know since as a staffer for the Senate
commerce Committee she worked on a similar Senate bill. Rosenworcel called the
item balanced and one that would create new opportunities while protecting
Commissioner Ajit Pai also praised the diversity potential
of the new applications, but said that he supported the item in part because it
codified that second-adjacent-channel waiver requests would be contingent on a
showing that there be no interference to existing stations, but said it should also have included a requirement that adjacent full-power stations be served with a
copy of the waiver request so they could weigh in sooner if they had issues.