FM radio and FCC battle it out in DC

WASHINGTON: Hidden behind the heavy curtain of election coverage, a high-powered PR battle was shaping up in Washington over low-power radio last week.

WASHINGTON: Hidden behind the heavy curtain of election coverage, a high-powered PR battle was shaping up in Washington over low-power radio last week.

WASHINGTON: Hidden behind the heavy curtain of election coverage, a high-powered PR battle was shaping up in Washington over low-power radio last week.

The National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio faced off with community groups and the Federal Communications Commission over an agency plan to introduce the licensing of low-power, short-range FM radio stations (LPFM).

A rider that critics said would kill LPFM sailed through the House and into the Senate on the back of a seemingly veto-proof appropriations bill, sparking off a major PR offensive.

The Media Access Project, a nonprofit public interest law firm backing LPFM, rallied the faithful with a letter-writing campaign imploring presidential intervention. FCC chief William Kennard, in an opinion piece in The Washington Post wrote that the broadcasters' effort 'smacks of everything that Americans have come to distrust about our democratic process.'

Meanwhile, NPR has issued joint statements and held editorial board meetings with the International Association of Audio Information Services, which provides audio services for the blind through many NPR member stations, to push its contention that LPFM would interfere with those services.

NPR also said LPFM signals would interfere with translator stations, which rebroadcast radio signals to remote rural areas.

Michael Bracy, director of the telecoms practice at PR firm Bracy Williams and an LPFM supporter, told PRWeek of his campaign, which had used celebrity support from groups such as the Indigo Girls to help galvanize support.

Gore, Nader and John McCain all support LPFM.



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