Sunday, December 12, 2010

Low Power Radio in Garden Valley: Why the Holdup?


By Rich Smith

Several folks have been asking about the status of Garden Valley Communications Inc. and efforts to start a Low Power FM noncommercial radio station in Garden Valley.

The FCC has continued to withhold our application for a Low Power FM license, awaiting the results of pending Congressional legislation. Last year (2009) the House passed the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 (LCRA, HR 1147) and sent it on to the Senate (as S592) for a floor vote. This legislation makes it possible for rural communities such as Garden Valley to obtain and operate a noncommercial low power FM station. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has vigorously fought LPFM since it first gained Congressional approval in 2000. They have succeeded in stalling licensing and legislation for LPFM since 2002, when they demanded a Congressional investigation into so called “interference” that LPFM would have on commercial high-power FM stations. Two and one half years and $2.2 million tax dollars later, the FCC concluded there was no such interference, something that a short engineering study and common sense could have resolved at no cost to the taxpayer.

The NAB has successfully stalled a Senate floor vote on S592 by falsely claiming that this bill is unnecessary and there are plenty of FM channels available for LPFM. The facts are different. Until the rules of S592 are implemented, despite our distance from Boise, there are no available LPFM channels in Garden Valley. The NAB also successfully lobbied to add an addendum to S592 requiring an economic study to determine “the financial impact LPFM will have on commercial FM”, another delaying tactic that will hold up licensing for months if not years.

With few days left in the 111th Congress, it unlikely that S592 will come to a floor vote. Our best hope is the 112th Congress will delete the provision for an economic study and vote on this bill. I wrote Senators Crapo and Risch telling them of the Garden Valley Communication Inc. plans and they are supportive of S592 and our efforts to bring local FM radio to Garden Valley.

The bottom line is that our application for a license to operate LPFM in Garden Valley languishes at the FCC until this legislation is resolved. For more information contact Rex Lefevre or Rich Smith, or if you want to add your opinion about S592, write or call senators Crapo and Risch.
Rich Smith: 208-462-3013;
Rex LeFevre: 208-462-2303

Photo by Angel

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