Future of Community Radio Campaign
Raised to date: $70,000.00
Estimate to complete: $185,000.00
Total Estimated Budget: $255,000.00
The budget numbers above are accurate as of 01/25/2009
Executive Director and Regulatory Organizer
Pete actively participated in the rulemaking that led up to the adoption of LPFM and on the lawsuit Prometheus vs. the FCC, which held back a major round of media consolidation of ownership in the United States. He has also helped to build a number of low power radio stations and has provided advice to hundreds. Internationally, he has lead radio trainings in Guatemala, Colombia, Nepal, Tanzania, Jordan, among other countries. In addition to numerous speaking engagements in academic, political and community settings, Pete contributed to articles in the recent books, News Incorporated and Be the Media. Pete holds a BA in Appropriate Technology from Antioch College, and he is an SBE certified Broadcast Radio Engineer. Over the years Pete has been a carpenter, an environmental educator, a solar energy system installer, a squatter, a homeless shelter volunteer and an activist in many social movements.
|Media Democracy Fund||$20,000.00||02/10/2009|
Through an all out campaign of education and advocacy, Prometheus aims to improve the way the FCC regulates community radio as the new administration establishes their policy agenda. Low Power FM (LPFM) is one of the most practical first steps towards improving access to the media for minorities and new voices in broadcasting.
Prometheus Radio Project has been working for many years under unfavorable administrations to improve the rules governing community radio. In spite of the past 8 years of decision-makers who have been largely indifferent to community radio, we have made significant progress considering the hard times. With the changing administration and Congress, many of those who have done the most to frustrate community radio are now out of a job and have been replaced by others who have said they intend to support public interest goals more assiduously.
Prometheus is embarking on
a campaign to focus the attention of new decision-makers on Low Power FM radio (LPFM),
and win changes to the policies that have thus far confined LPFM stations to just a sliver of their potential role in the media mix.
Prometheus is opening up a temporary office in Washington DC from February
through June to help connect LPFM aspirants with DC decision-makers.
Through this project we will:
• Host dozens of meetings between constituents visiting Washington and decision-makers and allies that can help community radio;
• Work closely with our attorneys at Media Access Project to explain, document and negotiate proposals for the FCC;
• Work in coalition with both traditional allied organizations and former opponents who are now coming to see the benefit of supporting LPFM;
•Produce several new sets of materials including: briefing articles on strategic issues in current policy debates that affect community radio; a packet on passing City council resolutions in favor of LPFM; a documentation of Emergency responder uses of LPFM; and an update of literature to best explain the issues to new decisionmakers;
• Build for a national LPFM Leadership Day event, when we will host people from around the country hoping to build LPFMs for three days of education, meetings with decision-makers, and actions for community media.
Prometheus has conducted two similar Low Power FM leadership days in the past. At each of these events, over 75 grassroots organizers from around the country have traveled to Washington to petition the FCC for redress of policies unfair to LPFM and to request the opportunity to apply for a low power radio station. During these two day events, participants are briefed on important policy concerns, trainings are held in how to make effective presentations for decisionmakers, educational panels are conducted, and question and answer sessions are conducted with FCC officials, and a press event is conducted to give an opportunity for organizers to speak to the press about their aspirations for community radio. And of course, we party to celebrate the achievements of the low power stations on the air, and we recommit to each other to work to spread the benefits of community radio to all communities.
While the decision-makers have changed, this is no guarantee of success for Low Power radio. Prometheus will need to expend considerable resources educating new policy makers on the issues, introducing them to grassroots voices for change, winning commitments of policy change, meeting opponents arguments, and hammering out the details of the proposals as they are crafted into legally defensible regulations. We seek to push hard during the first months of the administration on this issue, since if we wait the new administration could weaken in its ability to get things done as the term wears on. Regardless of the ground gained towards favorable regulatory change in the first months, the tone and commitment of the new FCC to this issue will be set during this time--making now a critical time to act.
The creation of the Low Power (LPFM) radio service stands as one of the greatest successes in recent efforts for grassroots media reform. LPFM has allowed US-based non-profits to re-imagine and revitalize its relationship with media; and this has set the stage for a dramatic expansion of civil society into the world of radio station operations. While helping these LPFMs to identify new strategies in approaching these issues at the grassroots, we are also playing an active role in informing the Federal Communications Commission's rulemaking process.
Our current work at the FCC focuses on getting the FCC to change policies that are currently unfavorable to new applications for radio stations. The priority for assignment of frequencies is currently contested between low power advocates and a handful of national evangelical radio networks that seek to use low power frequencies to repeat their messages across thousands of stations. We believe that groups that seek to operate a single local radio station should have priority over groups who have hundred of repetitions of their signals across the country. With certain key changes to the existing regulations, many thousands of frequencies could be made available for new community radio stations.
Prometheus is also working with communities across the nation to protect their Low Power FM community radio stations (LPFM) from “encroachment”—the threat of being obscured or entirely knocked off the air by full power commercial stations as they reposition their broadcast tower to optimize their reach to desired listener markets. Prometheus is pushing for key regulatory changes that would require full power stations to give greater consideration to LPFM stations they would displace, and in many cases prevent the loss of LPFM frequencies.
We have spent ten years developing relationships with the staff at the FCC Media Bureau and with individual FCC Commissioners and their staff, since Prometheus started in 1998. With the introduction of the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPR) for LPFM radio in the summer of 2005, Prometheus filed formal comments and posed a strong case for the protection of low power FM radio stations. In the following two years, after being ignored as too small to count for years earlier, Prometheus met with Chairman Kevin Martin and the other four Commissioners on several occasions, urging them to take the next steps in improving LPFM service.
Our years of effort and the tremendous public support for LPFM at FCC localism hearings nationwide paid off: On November 27th, 2007, the FCC announced a big win for low power stations when they passed a set of provisions amending the rules that govern LPFM service. Considering the much larger forces arrayed against the growth of low power FM, the progress made in these provisions has been substantial. Still, these recent FCC provisions to the LPFM rulemaking are but a modest improvement upon fundamentally unfair policies—policies which essentially amount to table scraps for low power stations, instead of the creation of a just system of broadcast ownership.
This all out push over the next months will determine the future of community radio. In order to ensure that licenses for radio frequencies will be available in major urban areas in the next Low Power FM license filing window, we must maintain continual contact with the decision-makers at the FCC over the coming months. Concordantly, we need to conduct strategic outreach to a roster of advocates who will join Prometheus in Washington DC to put pressure on the FCC. Through this joint effort, we will hold the FCC accountable to follow through on their initial positive steps during the next several months.
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