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H.R. 1147 (111th): Local Community Radio Act of 2009

The text of the bill below is as of Dec 14, 2009 (Reported by House Committee).


Union Calendar No. 220


1st Session

H. R. 1147

[Report No. 111–375]


February 24, 2009

(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 Commerce

December 14, 2009

Additional sponsors: Mr. Fortenberry, Mr. Clay, Mr. Inslee, Mr. Frank of Massachusetts, Mr. Latham, Mr. Cardoza, Mr. Murtha, Mr. Loebsack, Mr. Tonko, Mr. McGovern, Mr. Olver, Mr. Serrano, Mr. Farr, Mr. Engel, Mr. Massa, Mr. Cleaver, Ms. Shea-Porter, Mr. Hinchey, Mr. Duncan, Mr. Cohen, Ms. Lee of California, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Lewis of Georgia, Mrs. McCarthy of New York, Mr. McNerney, Mr. Gutierrez, Mr. Filner, Ms. Clarke, Mr. McDermott, Mr. Honda, Ms. Schakowsky, Ms. Velázquez, Mr. Towns, Mrs. Maloney, Ms. Roybal-Allard, Mr. Hill, Ms. DeGette, Mr. Welch, Mr. Deal of Georgia, Mr. Rothman of New Jersey, Mr. Akin, Ms. Bordallo, Mr. Bartlett, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Smith of Nebraska, Mr. Hare, Mr. Kildee, Mrs. Napolitano, Mr. Tierney, Mr. Stark, Mr. Fattah, Mr. Baca, Mr. Conyers, Mr. Foster, Mr. Carney, Mr. Kucinich, Mr. Jackson of Illinois, Mr. Bishop of New York, Ms. Harman, Ms. Jackson-Lee of Texas, Ms. Matsui, Mrs. Davis of California, Mr. Reyes, Mrs. Christensen, Ms. Slaughter, Mr. King of New York, and Ms. Hirono

December 14, 2009

Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed

Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed in italic

For text of introduced bill, see copy of bill as introduced on February 24, 2009


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


Short title

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



Congress finds the following:


The passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 led to increased consolidation of ownership in the radio industry.


At a hearing before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate 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 consolidation.


In part due to consolidation of media ownership, there have been strong financial incentives for some companies to reduce local programming and rely instead on syndicated programming produced for hundreds of stations, though noncommercial educational radio stations, including FM translator stations, currently provide important local service, as do many commercial radio 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.


Local communities have sought to launch radio stations to meet their local needs. However, due in part 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.


In 2003, the average cost to acquire a commercial radio station was more than $2,500,000.


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.


Through the creation of LPFM, the Federal Communications Commission sought to create opportunities for new voices on the airwaves and to allow local groups, including schools, churches, and other community-based organizations, to provide programming responsive to local community needs and interests.


The Federal Communications 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..


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 Federal Communications Commission based its LPFM rules on the actual performance of these translators, which already operate without undue interference to FM stations.


Small rural broadcasters were particularly concerned about a lengthy and costly LPFM interference complaint process. Therefore, in September 2000, the Federal Communications Commission created a process to address interference complaints regarding LPFM stations on an expedited basis.


In December 2000, Congress delayed the full implementation of LPFM until the Federal Communications Commission commissioned and reviewed an independent engineering study. This action was due to some broadcasters’ concerns that LPFM service would cause interference in the FM radio band.


The Federal Communications Commission granted licenses to over 800 LPFM stations 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 populations, artists, schools, religious organizations, environmental groups, organizations promoting literacy, and many other civically oriented organizations.


After 2 years and the expenditure of $2,193,343 in taxpayer dollars, the independent engineering study commissioned by the Federal Communications Commission concluded that concerns about interference on third-adjacent channels were unwarranted.


The Federal Communications Commission 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..


On November 27, 2007, the Federal Communications Commission again unanimously affirmed LPFM, stating in a news release about the adoption of the Low-Power FM Third Report and Order and Second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that the Federal Communications Commission recommends to Congress that it remove the requirement that LPFM stations protect full-power stations operating on third-adjacent channels. Until the date of enactment of this Act, Congress had not acted upon that recommendation.


Minorities represent almost a third of the population of the United States. However, according to the Federal Communications 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 offer local communities a greater diversity of viewpoints and culture.


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 on the air during Hurricane Katrina, several were LPFM stations. In Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, low-power FM station WQRZ remained on the air during Hurricane Katrina and served as the Emergency Operations Center for Hancock County. After Hurricane Katrina, when thousands of evacuees temporarily housed at the Houston Astrodome were unable to hear over the loudspeakers information about the availability of food and ice, the location of Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives, and the whereabouts of missing loved ones, volunteers handed out thousands of transistor radios and established an LPFM station outside of 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 amended to read as follows:


The Federal Communications Commission shall modify the rules authorizing the operation of low-power FM radio stations, as proposed in MM Docket No. 99–25, to—


prescribe protection for co-channels and first- and second-adjacent channels; and


prohibit any applicant from obtaining a low-power FM license if the applicant has engaged in any manner in the unlicensed operation of any station in violation of section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 301).


Any license that was issued by the Commission to a low-power FM station prior to the date on which the Commission modifies its rules as required by subsection (a) and that does not comply with such modifications shall be invalid.



Minimum distance separation requirements

The Federal Communications Commission shall modify its rules to eliminate third-adjacent minimum distance separation requirements between—


low-power FM stations; and


full-service FM stations, FM translator stations, and FM booster stations.


Protection of radio reading services

The Federal Communications Commission shall provide third-adjacent channel protection for full-power noncommercial FM stations and noncommercial FM translator and booster stations that broadcast radio reading services via an analog subcarrier frequency from potential low-power FM station interference.


Ensuring availability of spectrum for low-power FM stations

The Federal Communications Commission, when licensing FM translator and low-power FM stations, shall ensure—


that licenses are available to both FM translator stations and low-power FM stations; and


that such decisions are made based on the needs of the local community.


Protection of translator input signals

The Federal Communications Commission shall modify its rules to address the potential for predicted interference to FM translator input signals on third-adjacent channels set forth in section 2.7 of the technical report entitled Experimental Measurements of the Third-Adjacent Channel Impacts of Low-Power FM Stations, Volume One—Final Report (May 2003).


Ensuring effective remediation of interference

The Federal Communications Commission shall modify the interference complaint process described in section 73.810 of its rules (47 CFR 73.810) as follows:


For a period of one year after a new low-power FM station is constructed on a third-adjacent channel, the low-power FM station shall be required to broadcast periodic announcements that alert listeners that interference that they may be experiencing could be the result of the operation of the new low-power FM station on a third-adjacent channel and shall instruct affected listeners to contact the low-power FM station to report any interference. The Federal Communications Commission shall require all newly constructed low-power FM stations on third-adjacent channels to—


notify the Federal Communications Commission and all affected stations on third-adjacent channels of interference complaints; and


cooperate in addressing any such interference.


Low-power FM stations on third-adjacent channels shall be required to address complaints of interference within the protected contour of an affected station and shall be encouraged to address all other interference complaints, including complaints to the Federal Communications Commission based on interference to a full-service FM station, an FM translator station, or an FM booster station by the transmitter site of a low-power FM station on a third-adjacent channel at any distance from the full-service FM station, FM translator station, or FM booster station.


To the extent possible, the Federal Communications Commission shall grant low-power FM stations on third-adjacent channels the technical flexibility to remediate interference through the colocation of the transmission facilities of the low-power FM station and any stations on third-adjacent channels.


The Federal Communications Commission shall—


permit the submission of informal evidence of interference, including any engineering analysis that an affected station may commission;


accept complaints based on interference to a full-service or FM translator station by the transmitter site of a low-power FM station on a third-adjacent channel at any distance from the full-service or FM translator station; and


accept complaints of interference to mobile reception.

December 15, 2009

Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed