Bill opening radio to more stations goes to president

December 18, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, to open up the radio airwaves to more low-power stations won final passage in the House on Friday, clearing the way for the president’s signature.

The Local Community Radio Act will allow FM stations in the same area to be three “clicks” apart — a separation of 0.6 on your radio dial — rather than the current four, allowing the Federal Communications Commission to give out broadcast licenses to more stations.

A student station at Penn State Greater Allegheny is among the groups that have been pushing for a spot on the FM dial.

The FCC recommended allowing stations to broadcast closer together on the dial in 1999. Congress in 2000 passed a law halting the change and ordering a study to respond to concerns raised by big broadcasters that low-power FM stations would interfere with their signals at closer range. The FCC found no interference problems.

The National Association of Broadcasters had lobbied against the bill — co-sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb. — but announced its support Friday after winning several changes.