At today’s Future of Music Policy Summit in Washington, DC, there has been much talk about issues of interest to broadcasters, including the performance right in sound recordings for terrestrial radio, multiple ownership, and many other issues. The Future of Music Coalition, whose website is here, is dedicated to bringing the voice of musicians and the public to Congress and other decision-makers in Washington. Thus, the Coalition is involved in music issues before Congress and the Copyright Office, as well as before the FCC and other agencies on issues including multiple ownership, net neutrality, and similar matters. Members of the Coalition have been involved in the Low Power FM debate. At the panel session titled "The Hill Was Alive with the Sound of Music," dealing with legislative matters affecting music that are pending or which may arise before Congress, only one issue was perceived as being likely to be considered and potentially resolved by this Congress, before the Presidential election. That was the issue of LPFM, where bills have been introduced in Congress to eliminate the restrictions that prohibited LPFM stations from causing third-adjacent channel interference to other stations.
The panel included staffers from both the House of Representatives and the Senate, who both indicated that, while there were many other issues of importance to those in the music industry that might be considered this year, LPFM was the one issue that had a chance of actually being adopted this year, given bipartisan support for pending bills. The pending legislation, The Local Community Radio Act of 2007, has been introduced in both the House and the Senate. This legislation would lift restrictions on interference to third adjacent channel stations – restrictions which were adopted by Congress about 7 years ago. We wrote about this legislation, here.
We will see whether Congress takes any action on LPFM, has the FCC already begun to do so? In our July comment on this issue, we also wrote about complaints from LPFM advocates that facilities changes in FM stations were forcing LPFM stations off the air. Of course, LPFM stations were supposed to have been authorized as secondary services that could be forced off the air when they created interference to full-service stations. We’ve now heard from some DC attorneys that client’s full-power FM applications are being held up while their impact on LPFM stations is being reviewed by the FCC. While this is not a policy of the FCC, and these holds may well be innocuous, broadcasters planning facility changes should consider the potential of an issue when in their engineering planning and review process. Just one more thing for a broadcaster to worry about….