Perhaps by now some of you may have heard of the passage of the Local Community Radio Act, Bill H.R. 1147 which was later updated in H.R.6533. Community radio advocates have been pushing for community radio for quite some time and the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 should be hailed as a major victory.
Congressman Terry speaks about his legislation, the 'Local Community
Radio Act, HR 1147 on the House floor.
This particular bill addresses Low-power FM radio broadcasting which is electronic broadcasting at very low power. Depending on the software, transmitters and antenna, some Low-power FM broadcasts can reach those within a ten mile radius. Depending on the area, Low power FM stations have the potential to reach entire urban communities. This bill also addresses some of the restrictions in the licensing of Low Power FM stations which were put in place in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Corporate radio conglomerates argued that these stations would interfere with their full power FM stations and were successful in lobbying Congress to gut earlier bills. Recently a study commissioned by Congress found that this was not the case. An average FM station can cost a million dollars and only businesses and very wealthy people can afford to construct them. Low power FM or LPFM station licenses are designated for non-profit, educational or religious organizations only. LPFM stations are affordable and within the economic reach of many Black Churches, Mosques and Schools. An antenna and transmitter can cost anywhere from just $2000 to $5000 dollars.
The type of music that is broadcast on corporate stations targeting the Black community has long been the subject of debate with some commentators blaming the lyrical content on the artists while excusing the executives of the major labels that give recording contracts to certain types of "artists" and the corporate radio stations who play the questionable music on a constant rotation often outside the FCC guidelines on obscene content which are infrequently enforced.
2008 Clip of Michelle Malkin from Fox "News" busy shilling for
With the passage of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010, so-called Black leaders no longer have an excuse to blame corporate media if they do not mobilize communities to create these local stations that can give air play to artist with music appropriate for youth as well as providing talk radio programming that informs the community and hosts discussions about social and political issues that are specific to the local community of these stations.
A number of Black civil rights organizations and other non-profit Black media institutions are in a position to act now because they have the funding but it is also possible that they will pass on this historic opportunity for Black self empowerment because they are already taking money from the corporations. This was the case with the National NAACP as they sided with the big Telecommunications companies on Net Neutrality which will now allow the corporations to decide what content can be delivered to those who access the Internet through mobile devices like cell phones. This discrimination will be made legal by the high fees the Telecommunication corporations can charge Internet content providers to have their websites streamed much faster than those who take a stand against paying the fees. After all, the Internet belongs to the people as it was constructed with tax dollars and the paying subscribers be able to access any content they choose at the same download speeds.
We must also consider that some those who have been appointed or designated as the leaders of the Black community have very lucrative contracts with corporate media and many of them are hosting radio and television programs right now. Advocating for community radio may not be in their best interests because their so-called leadership may be challenged by local community voices who actually live among the people and will not serve as puppets of forces outside of the Black community.
The Black Talk Media Project applauds the passage of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 and will do what it can with the help of potential partners and allies to help the Black community take advantage of LPFM broadcasting integrated with online networks while calling on other Black organizations to do the same. However, if the people do not push for local community radio and support those who want to build LPFM stations, then it will be another missed opportunity for the Black community and give certain people the tired old excuse to continue to blame the "white man" for all our problems.