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Posted at 12:35 PM ET, 01/ 7/2011

Advocates rejoice as Obama signs Local Community Radio Act

By Hayley Tsukayama

On Wednesday, President Obama signed the Local Community Radio Act, making room on the radio spectrum for smaller, community-based radio stations.

The act passed the Senate on Dec. 20 and represents the end of a decade-long struggle between local radio advocates and the National Association of Broadcasters.

The provisions were in place to prevent interference, and largely kept low-power FM stations in rural areas where airwaves were more open. Prior to this act, low-power radio stations were only allowed to occupy frequencies within four dial clicks of a major radio station, officially called fourth-adjacent frequencies. Community radio advocates such as the Prometheus Radio Project said that placed too much of a restriction on the spectrum, and that more frequencies could be opened without interference issues.

The new act allows low-power stations on third-adjacent stations, or within three clicks of a major station. The two sides reached a compromise over language, and on Dec. 17, the NAB sent a letter of support to members of the House Energy and Commerce committee.

The NAB also issued a statement in support of the measure Dec. 17 after the House passed its version of the act.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said he would act quickly to put the measure into action, saying, "The FCC will take swift action to open the dial to new low-power radio stations and the valuable local service they provide.”

Danielle Chynoweth, director of strategic planning at Prometheus Radio, said that she anticipates that the act will allow low-power FM stations to open in urban areas such as Washington, D.C., where the spectrum had been deemed too crowded under the old rules.

By Hayley Tsukayama  | January 7, 2011; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Spectrum  
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