Microradio Comments Due Aug. 2

Write the FCC – they do not want to hear from you.

In the last issue of Slingshot, we reported extensively on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to 65legalize65 forms of micro-powered radio broadcasting. The FCC action came after 10 years of civil disobedience by thousands of micro-powered broadcasters around the country, who started free radio stations to protest the FCC’s current ban on accessible community radio access. The FCC’s deadline for public comment has now been extended to August 2, so there is still time for your or your organization to file a comment!

Public comment on the FCC proposal is essential since the proposal is a series of questions about how the 65legalized65 radio service should be organized. One set of answers to these questions would make the new Low Power FM service an extension of corporate control, and another set of answers could make low power FM available to communities and individuals who are currently excluded from the public airwaves.

Powerful corporate radio stations, represented by their trade group the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and other entrenched powers like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, have been working hard to make sure that the FCC’s proposal is either an impotent failure or unavailable to excluded people. The NAB requested, and was granted by the FCC, two extensions of the deadline to file comments, so the NAB could rally corporate support for the status quo and finish their 65scientific65 research on how LPFM would cause chaos on the airwaves. While these extensions are a dangerous opportunity for the powers of corporate control, they also give free radio supporters and all those who favor democratic communication additional time to file comments with the FCC.

A full description of the FCC’s proposal (known as the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)) and an analysis of the points to include in comments you might file is far beyond the scope of this update. For details, write Slingshot (see page 2 for address) for a copy of issue #64 and a copy of the National Lawyer’s Guild’s Committee for Democratic Communications (CDC) newsletter on the subject. Last issues article is at our website too, www.tao.ca/~slingshot. Or, check out the materials at the CDC’s website: www.nlgcdc.org. The CDC has a detailed response to the FCC’s proposal, and you and/or any organization you are associated with can sign on in support of the CDC’s detailed comments, while adding your own supplemental comments. The CDC is actively working to get unions, churches, and other civic groups to file comments. Contact them if you have access to any union, church etc. decision making bodies: Committee on Democratic Communications, 558 Capp Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 522-9814.

To file a comment directly, do it by computer at www.fcc.gov. Head for the Electronic Comment Filing System where you can make your comment in only a few minutes. The number of the proceeding is MM Docket No. 99-25. Electronic filing is almost required. You can also see the hundreds of the pro and con comments already filed at the FCC’s website (Some of the comments already filed, by the way, recite word by word the 10 points for comment printed in the last issue of Slingshot!)

The groundswell of support for democratic access to the radio dial is growing, and a number of important groups, including numerous unions and churches, have already signed on in support the CDC comments. Check this stuff out!