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WGXC stars in NPR story on the fight for community radio
By Lissa Harris
12/14/10 - 3:38 pm
12/14/10 - 3:38 pm
The future of community FM radio is currently being plotted in the back rooms of the US Senate, in the form of a bill that could dramatically increase the number of licenses available to community radio stations.
The bill has broad support from both the left and the right, but it's being held up by procedural moves from anonymous opponents. NPR's All Things Considered reports:
KARR: Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington is co-sponsor of a bill that would let as many as 1,000 new community stations go on the air, but it's stuck. It passed the House with bipartisan support, and her co-sponsor in the Senate is Arizona Republican John McCain.
But a couple of anonymous senators have used parliamentary procedure to effectively veto its chances for an up or down vote. Cantwell says it's yet another example of minority rule on Capitol Hill, which happens to lots of bills that have bipartisan support.
Sen. CANTWELL: A lot of these bills would pass 98 to two, or, you know, 95 to five, if we got rid of what are called secret holds, where one or two members hold something up really on behalf of some special interest.
KARR: The special interest in this case is the National Association of Broadcasters, the trade group for commercial radio. It's been opposing an increase in the number of community stations for more than a decade.
The story uses local radio-station-in-progress WGXC to illustrate what community radio means to towns and regions that have watched their local news swallowed by media consolidation:
Greene County legislator Bill Lawrence says the area used to have a commercial radio station that actually reported local news.
Mr. BILL LAWRENCE (Legislator, Greene County, New York): Back when I first became a legislator in the early '80s, we had great reporting, investigative reporting actually, and I thought they did a good job of doing both sides of a story. We lost it. They went regional, and we've sort of lost that local input.
KARR: Long story short, San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications bought the station and cut local programming.
What kind of heartless paper-pusher doesn't like local radio? The Huffington Post's Craig Aaron points a finger at lobbyist Gordon Smith, a former Republican senator from Oregon who's now working on behalf of the National Association of Broadcasters.
Track the progress of the Local Community Radio Act here:
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