[Congressional Bills 111th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 1147 Introduced in House (IH)]

  1st Session
                                H. R. 1147

    To implement the recommendations of the Federal Communications 
   Commission report to the Congress regarding low-power FM service.



                           February 24, 2009

   Mr. Doyle (for himself, Mr. Terry, Ms. Eshoo, Ms. Zoe Lofgren of 
 California, Mr. Wilson of South Carolina, Ms. Kilpatrick of Michigan, 
Mr. Hastings of Florida, Ms. Moore of Wisconsin, Mr. Paul, Mr. Brady of 
Pennsylvania, Mr. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, Ms. Schwartz, Mr. Payne, 
Mr. Hinojosa, Mr. Johnson of Illinois, Mr. Delahunt, Mr. Capuano, Mrs. 
   McMorris Rodgers, Mrs. Blackburn, and Ms. Baldwin) introduced the 
   following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and 


                                 A BILL

    To implement the recommendations of the Federal Communications 
   Commission report to the Congress regarding low-power FM service.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Local Community Radio Act of 2009''.


    Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) The passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 led 
        to increased ownership consolidation in the radio industry.
            (2) At a hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, 
        Science, and Transportation on June 4, 2003, all 5 members of 
        the Federal Communications Commission testified that there has 
        been, in at least some local radio markets, too much 
            (3) As a result of consolidation of media ownership, there 
        have been strong financial incentives for companies to reduce 
        local programming and rely instead on syndicated programming 
        produced for hundreds of stations. A renewal of commitment to 
        localism--local operations, local research, local management, 
        locally originated programming, local artists, and local news 
        and events--would bolster radio's service to the public.
            (4) Local communities have sought to launch radio stations 
        to meet their local needs. However, due to the scarce amount of 
        spectrum available and the high cost of buying and running a 
        large station, many local communities are unable to establish a 
        radio station.
            (5) In 2003, the average cost to acquire a commercial radio 
        station was more than $2,500,000.
            (6) In January 2000, the Federal Communications Commission 
        authorized a new, affordable community radio service called 
        ``low-power FM'' or ``LPFM'' to ``enhance locally focused 
        community-oriented radio broadcasting''.
            (7) Through the creation of LPFM, the Commission sought to 
        ``create opportunities for new voices on the air waves and to 
        allow local groups, including schools, churches, and other 
        community-based organizations, to provide programming 
        responsive to local community needs and interests''.
            (8) The Commission made clear that the creation of LPFM 
        would not compromise the integrity of the FM radio band by 
        stating, ``We are committed to creating a low-power FM radio 
        service only if it does not cause unacceptable interference to 
        existing radio service.''.
            (9) Currently, FM translator stations can operate on the 
        second- and third-adjacent channels to full power radio 
        stations, up to an effective radiated power of 250 watts, 
        pursuant to part 74 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, 
        using the very same transmitters that LPFM stations will use. 
        The Commission based its LPFM rules on the actual performance 
        of these translators that already operate without undue 
        interference to FM stations. The actual interference record of 
        these translators is far more useful than any results that 
        further testing could yield.
            (10) Small rural broadcasters were particularly concerned 
        about a lengthy and costly interference complaint process. 
        Therefore, in September 2000, the Commission created a simple 
        process to address interference complaints regarding LPFM 
        stations on an expedited basis.
            (11) In December 2000, Congress delayed the full 
        implementation of LPFM until an independent engineering study 
        was completed and reviewed. This delay was due to some 
        broadcasters' concerns that LPFM service would cause 
        interference in the FM band.
            (12) The delay prevented millions of Americans from having 
        a locally operated, community-based radio station in their 
            (13) Over 800 LPFM stations were allowed to proceed despite 
        the congressional action. These stations are currently on the 
        air and are run by local government agencies, groups promoting 
        arts and education to immigrant and indigenous peoples, 
        artists, schools, religious organizations, environmental 
        groups, organizations promoting literacy, and many other 
        civically oriented organizations.
            (14) After 2 years and the expenditure of $2,193,343 in 
        taxpayer dollars to conduct this study, the broadcasters' 
        concerns were demonstrated to be unsubstantiated.
            (15) The FCC issued a report to Congress on February 19, 
        2004, which stated that ``Congress should readdress this issue 
        and modify the statute to eliminate the third-adjacent channel 
        distance separation requirement for LPFM stations.''.
            (16) On November 27, 2007, the FCC again unanimously 
        affirmed LPFM, stating in a news release about the passage of 
        the Third Report and Order and Second Notice of Proposed 
        Rulemaking that the Commission: ``Recommends to Congress that 
        it remove the requirement that LPFM stations protect full-power 
        stations on operating on the third-adjacent channels.'' Five 
        years after the release of the FCC's report and recommendation, 
        this recommendation has still not been acted upon.
            (17) Minorities represent almost a third of our population. 
        However, according to the Federal Communication Commission's 
        most recent Form 323 data on the race and gender of full power, 
        commercial broadcast licensees, minorities own only 7 percent 
        of all local television and radio stations. Women represent 
        more than half of the population, but own only 6 percent of all 
        local television and radio stations. LPFM stations, while not a 
        solution to the overall inequalities in minority and female 
        broadcast ownership, provide an additional opportunity for 
        underrepresented communities to operate a station and provide 
        local communities with a greater diversity of viewpoints and 
            (18) LPFM stations have proven to be a vital source of 
        information during local or national emergencies. Out of the 
        few stations that were able to stay online during Katrina, 
        several were LPFM stations. In Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, LPFM 
        station WQRZ remained on the air during Hurricane Katrina and 
        served as the Emergency Operations Center for Hancock County. 
        Additionally, after Hurricane Katrina when thousands of 
        evacuees temporarily housed at the Houston Astrodome were 
        unable to hear information about the availability of food and 
        ice, the location of FEMA representatives, and the whereabouts 
        of missing loved ones over the loud speakers, volunteers handed 
        out thousands of transistor radios and established a LPFM 
        station outside the Astrodome to broadcast such information.


    Section 632 of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the 
Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001 (Public Law 
106-553; 114 Stat. 2762A-111), is repealed.


    The Federal Communications Commission shall modify its rules to 
eliminate third-adjacent minimum distance separation requirements 
            (1) low-power FM stations; and
            (2) full-service FM stations, FM translator stations, and 
        FM booster stations.


    The Federal Communications Commission shall retain its rules that 
provide third-adjacent channel protection for full-power non-commercial 
FM stations that broadcast radio reading services via a subcarrier 
frequency from potential low-power FM station interference.


    The Federal Communications Commission when licensing FM translator 
stations shall ensure--
            (1) that licenses are available to both FM translator 
        stations and low-power FM stations; and
            (2) that such decisions are made based on the needs of the 
        local community.