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Battle over microradio – Broadcasting local voices

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Early this year, the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to set up hundreds of free, low-power radio stations for nonprofits, touching off a firestorm of excitement and of controversy, the New York Times reported July 16.

Thousands of groups have expressed interest, and the FCC has received some 750 applications for the 200 or so licenses in the first 10 eligible states.

Members of Congress, most of them Republican, are trying to block the plan on the grounds that the new stations would interfere with the signals of existing stations.

The battle is over the diversity of radio. AM and FM radio stations are likely to be owned by big corporations that are not involved in local issues. The applicants for low-power licenses want to restore a local and regional element to radio.

Nearly half of the applicants are churches, most of them fundamentalist. Schools make up another 10 percent of the list, Media Access Project, a Washington law firm, told the Post. Other applicants include immigrants’ rights groups and jazz societies.

Low-power advocates say history favors their cause. When the government first established rules for television and radio broadcasters, it limited the number of national networks and set aside a large part of the spectrum for local broadcasters.

For full story, go to the New York Times.

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