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Congressional backers of the FCC's low-power FM initiative say there's proof the new service won't cause harmful interference to existing stations. Their evidence: 312 full-power stations already operating under relaxed interference safeguards similar to ones the FCC approved to fit low-power stations on the dial.

The National Association of Broadcasters in 1997 supported the waivers necessary to keep the full-power outlets operating. Low-power supporters, who say they were caught off guard by the GOP leadership's decision to bring the bill to a vote while its NAB supporters were conventioning in Las Vegas, plan to make a bigger deal of the full-power waivers when legislation to restrict low-power radio moves to the Senate. If the legislation passes anyway, FCC officials insist, they will not initiate punitive action against the 312. But they warn that neighboring stations might ask the FCC to reconsider the waivers if laws prohibiting relaxed standards are on the books.

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