WASHINGTON (July 23, 2004) -- Legislation supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expanding low power FM radio service was approved by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee today.
"Low power radio offers diverse programming that reflects the needs and interests of local communities," said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, Chairman of the USCCB Communications Committee. "It can connect the homebound to their churches, parents and students to their local schools, youths to outreach programs, citizens to town meetings. It can ensure that the public interest is better served by allowing local organizations to broadcast local information in their communities."
Low power FM stations (LPFM) are community-based, non-commercial radio stations that operate at 100 watts or less – generally broadcasting to an area within a few miles of the tower. Congress restored LPFM service in 2000, allowing small community-based organizations to apply for licenses to broadcast news and information of local concern.
More than 50 Catholic-affiliated organizations across the United States operate LPFM stations, and others have applied for licenses.
Concerns about possible interference raised by commercial radio interests were found to be unwarranted by a study released by the Federal Communications Commission, which called for Congress to lift restrictions on the service imposed in 2000. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced legislation in June to enact the FCC's recommendations. Their legislation, the "Low Power FM Radio Act," was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee today, allowing for consideration by the full Senate.