WASHINGTON (September 20, 1999) -- A new low power FM radio service must be structured to meet the needs of local communities, according to comments filed today by the U.S. Catholic Conference at the Federal Communications Commission.
"It was the abolition of regulations delineating how full power radio licensees serve the public that resulted in the loss of public interest programming," the comments said. "This new radio service is being launched specifically to provide a place for such local, community-oriented programming. It is imperative, therefore, that the mistakes made in full power radio not be repeated with low power FM radio."
The USCC argues in its comments that the deregulation of radio in 1984 has resulted in a small number of corporations buying up radio stations across the country, "leaving limited or no access to the FM airwaves for non-mainstream opinions and other programs which serve community needs."
The FCC's proposal to license FM radio stations from 10 to 1000 watts is intended to open up ownership opportunities for small, locally based entities like high schools and churches, thereby increasing the diversity of programming.
The USCC generally endorsed comments filed earlier by the United Church of Christ which urges that low power FM stations focus on locally originated programming and that they meet defined public interest standards.
"The USCC and other Catholic organizations have experienced firsthand the neglect of public interest programming by full power radio licensees," the USCC's comments said. "Low power FM stations would open up distribution of such programming."
The USCC urged the FCC to issue reasonable regulations which would "keep this service open to the most diverse range of opinions possible."
NOTE: The full text of the USCC's comments are available upon request.