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House Of Representatives Passes Amended LPFM Bill

The House Of Representatives has passed a version of the Local Community Radio Act (aka HR 6533), which would more than likely expand the number of Low-Power FM radio stations in major markets in the United States. The bill that was passed today was an amended compromise to the original bill.

The changes to the bill have additional spacing requirements to ensure these LPFMs will not interfere with existing full-power stations. The bill now contains a NAB-endorsed rule, allowing the FCC to ensure that full-power stations have primary status and can adequately protect those stations from being interfered with. Those pushing for the Radio Act, against the act and elected officials were able to work out compromise legislation that all sides felt they could live with.

The National Association of Broadcasters had lobbied and fought hard against the bill in its original form, but has whole-heartedly embraced this new amended bill. In a press release sent out this afternoon, NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said: "The revised legislation will expand the number of LPFM stations in the U.S. while providing full-power radio stations with the protection and clarity we have long sought. NAB salutes today's House action and offers its support for Senate passage as well."

In addition, the NAB has extended an olive branch to the LPFM supporters that it fought against for so long. They would like to throw a LPFM party at the NAB headquarters in Washington, DC next spring and all LPFM supporters are welcome to attend.

Before the bill can become law, it still has to be approved by the US Senate. The NAB is now supporting the bill, however, and with no real opposition against it, the new version of HR 6533 is expected to pass easily.

Locally, this news may be looked at as an early Christmas present to the members of the Chicago Independent Radio Project, better known as simply CHIRP. CHIRP has long worked to convince Congress and the FCC to remove the LPFM barriers and expand the LPFM licenses to urban areas -- especially Chicago. Once allowed to do so, CHIRP plans on applying for a LPFM license in Chicago. Until that time, the station has been Internet-only at CHIRPradio.org since the start of this year. CHIRP's Facebook page posted the following quote a short time ago: "GREAT news! The House has reached an agreement and passed the Local Community Radio Act today. Next up, the Senate in the next few days! While there are no promises for CHIRP getting a signal, this wonderful news means many new LPFM radio stations will be licensed across America! And, this is the first step to CHIRP... getting a signal in the future!"

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