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                                                       Calendar No. 591
110th Congress                                                Report
 2d Session                      SENATE                         110-271
_______________________________________________________________________
 
                   LOCAL COMMUNITY RADIO ACT OF 2007 

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 OF THE

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   on

                                 S. 1675

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]

                                     

                  March 4, 2008.--Ordered to be printed

                     U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

69-010 PDF                 WASHINGTON DC:  2008



























       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                       one hundred tenth congress
                             second session

                   DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii, Chairman
                   TED STEVENS, Alaska, Vice-Chairman
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West         JOHN McCAIN, Arizona
    Virginia                         KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas
JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts         OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine
BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota        GORDON H. SMITH, Oregon
BARBARA BOXER, California            JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada
BILL NELSON, Florida                 JOHN E. SUNUNU, New Hampshire
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington           JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey      DAVID VITTER, Louisiana
MARK PRYOR, Arkansas                 JOHN THUNE, South Dakota
THOMAS CARPER, Delaware              ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi
CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri
AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
          Margaret Cummisky, Staff Director and Chief Counsel
         Lila Helms, Deputy Staff Director and Policy Director
       Jean Toal Eisen, Senior Advisor and Deputy Policy Director
     Christine Kurth, Republican Staff Director and General Counsel
                Paul J. Nagle, Republican Chief Counsel
             Mimi Braniff, Republican Deputy Chief Counsel




























                                                       Calendar No. 591
110th Congress                                                Report
  2d Session                    SENATE                          110-271
======================================================================




                   LOCAL COMMUNITY RADIO ACT OF 2007

                                _______
                                

                 March 4, 2008.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

       Mr. Inouye, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1675]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 1675) to implement the 
recommendations of the Federal Communications Commission report 
to the Congress regarding low-power FM service, having 
considered the same, reports favorably thereon with an 
amendment and recommends that the bill (as amended) do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

  The purpose of S. 1675 is to implement the recommendations of 
the Federal Communications Commission with respect to the 
assignment of low-power FM (LPFM) radio licenses. The FCC 
recommended that Congress eliminate certain restrictions on the 
assignment of these licenses. In addition, the FCC recommended 
that Congress remove statutory requirements for additional 
testing on the possibility of interference and economic impact 
from LPFM stations to commercial broadcasters.

                          Background and Needs

  In 2000, the FCC authorized the creation of LPFM stations to 
allow noncommercial, educational, community-based groups, and 
public safety organizations to provide a community-based radio 
service. LPFM licenses are not available to individuals or 
entities that currently hold a broadcast license. As of 
November 2007, the FCC had granted 1304 construction permits 
for LPFM stations. Of those construction permits issued, 825 
stations have been fully licensed and are on the air. LPFM 
stations generally reach audiences within a radius of 3.5 miles 
from the LPFM station's transmitting tower and are not 
protected from interference that may be received from a full-
power FM station.
    The FCC's rules require LPFM stations to provide 
interference protection to full-power FM stations. For example, 
a new LPFM station operating on the same frequency as an 
existing full-power FM station (for example, at 101.1 FM) is 
required to have its transmitter located far enough away from 
the existing station's transmitter to prevent interference. In 
addition, an LPFM station on the ``first-adjacent channel'' 
(101.3 FM) or a ``second-adjacent channel'' (101.5 FM) must 
also adhere to distance spacing requirements to prevent 
interference, though the distance requirements are not as far 
as for LPFM stations operating on the same frequency.
    When it first adopted its LPFM rules, the FCC determined 
that an LPFM station broadcasting on a ``third-adjacent 
channel'' to a full-power FM station (101.7 FM in the 
continuing example) would not cause significant interference to 
a full-power FM station. Therefore, the FCC allowed LPFM 
stations to operate on a third-adjacent channel to a full-power 
FM station without imposing any minimum distance separation 
requirement. Before the FCC was able to fully implement this 
decision, Congress in late 2000 inserted a provision in the 
Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 Departments of Commerce, Justice, and 
State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act 
(Public Law 106-553) requiring the FCC to: (1) hire an 
independent engineering firm to further study possible 
interference between full-power FM stations and LPFM stations 
operating on a third-adjacent channel; (2) delay the removal of 
third-adjacent channel separation requirements; and (3) report 
the study's findings and any recommendations to Congress.
    Congress's action, which largely affected metropolitan 
areas, led to the elimination of at least 50 percent of the 
pending LPFM applications. As a result, there is only one LPFM 
station licensed in the top 50 cities nationwide. After the 
appropriations bill passed, the FCC hired Mitre Corporation to 
perform a study of LPFM interference to full-power FM stations. 
The study took over two years to complete at an expense of over 
two million dollars. The study confirmed the FCC's initial 
findings: LPFM on third-adjacent channels poses no significant 
risk of interference to other radio broadcast stations. The FCC 
issued its report to Congress in February 2004 recommending 
that Congress: (1) eliminate the existing third-adjacent 
minimum distance separation requirements between LPFM stations 
and full-power FM stations; and (2) eliminate the requirement 
from the 2000 legislation mandating further testing on the 
economic impact potential interference from LPFM stations would 
have on full-power FM stations.
    Low-power proponents cite the study as conclusive evidence 
that the third-adjacent channel protections are not necessary. 
Existing full-power FM licensees continue to oppose removal of 
the third-adjacent channel protection and have taken issue with 
the study. According to the National Association of 
Broadcasters, the study: (1) contained severe methodological 
errors that skewed its results; (2) failed to meet the 
Congressional directive to conduct independent audience 
listening tests to establish what is objectionable 
interference; and (3) failed to meet the Congressional 
directive to examine the economic impact third-adjacent LPFM 
stations would have on full-power FM broadcasters. In its 
Report to Congress, the Mitre Corporation recommended not 
performing the subsequent testing, because of the dearth of 
evidence of any interference. The FCC has estimated that an 
additional study would cost more than $800,000 to complete.

                          Legislative History

    In the 108th Congress, Senator McCain introduced S. 2505, a 
bill to implement the FCC recommendations, which would expand 
the availability of LPFM radio licenses and eliminate the 
requirement for further testing on the possibility of 
interference from LPFM stations to commercial broadcasters on 
third-adjacent channels and on the possibility that LPFM 
stations may pose an economic impact on full-power FM stations. 
The bill (as amended) was reported favorably by the Committee 
by a vote of 12-10. In the 109th Congress, Senator McCain 
offered a similar amendment to H.R. 5252, which was adopted as 
an amendment to Title XI of the bill by a vote of 14-7.
    On June 21, 2007, Senator Cantwell introduced S. 1675, a 
bill to implement the FCC's recommendations, which would expand 
the availability of LPFM radio licenses and eliminate the 
requirement for further testing on the possibility of 
interference from LPFM stations to commercial broadcasters on 
third-adjacent channels and on the possibility that LPFM 
stations may pose an economic impact on full-power FM stations.
    On October 30, 2007, the Committee held an executive 
session at which S. 1675 was considered. The Committee adopted 
an amendment proposed by Senator Lautenberg to provide third-
adjacent channel protection for full-power FM stations that are 
licensed in certain states, and for other purposes. The 
Committee also adopted two amendments offered by Senator Snowe. 
The first directs the FCC to conduct a study on the economic 
impact that LPFM stations will have on full-power commercial FM 
stations. Such study, however, shall not prevent the FCC from 
expeditiously modifying its rules to eliminate third-adjacent 
minimum distance separation requirements, as required by the 
bill. The second maintains the prohibition on obtaining an LPFM 
license if an applicant has engaged in the unlicensed operation 
of any station in violation of section 301 of the 
Communications Act of 1934. The bill, as amended, was ordered 
reported by voice vote.

                        Estimated Costs

    In compliance with subsection (a)(3) of paragraph 11 of 
rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee 
states that, in its opinion, it is necessary to dispense with 
the requirements of paragraphs (1) and (2) of that subsection 
in order to expedite the business of the Senate. deg.
    In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:

S. 1675--Local Community Radio Act of 2007

    S. 1675 would change the criteria for licensing low-power 
radio stations by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 
Such stations are operated by noncommercial entities and 
broadcast very weak signals (100 watts or less) that reach a 
limited geographic area. The bill would repeal some of the 
engineering requirements that currently limit the number of 
low-power radio stations that can operate in certain areas.
    CBO estimates that implementing the bill would have no 
significant effect on spending subject to appropriation and 
would not affect direct spending or revenues. Easing the 
restrictions on low-power radio stations likely would increase 
the number of applications for such licenses. Based on 
information from the FCC, CBO estimates that the administrative 
costs of processing additional license applications would be 
negligible and that there would be no change in the FCC's 
offsetting collections because noncommercial entities do not 
pay application or regulatory fees for such licenses.
    S. 1675 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. To the 
extent that public entities choose to apply for and develop new 
radio stations, they would voluntarily incur some costs.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Susan Willie. 
The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                  Regulatory Impact Statement

    In compliance with subsection (b)(2) of paragraph 11 of 
rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee 
states that, in its opinion, it is necessary to dispense with 
the requirements of paragraph (1) of that subsection in order 
to expedite the business of the Senate. deg.
    Because S. ------ does not create any new programs, the 
legislation will have no additional regulatory impact, and will 
result in no additional reporting requirements. The legislation 
will have no further effect on the number or types of 
individuals and businesses regulated, the economic impact of 
such regulation, the personal privacy of affected individuals, 
or the paperwork required from such individuals and 
businesses. deg.
    In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       NUMBER OF PERSONS COVERED

    S. 1675 would expand the availability of LPFM radio 
licenses and eliminate the requirement for further testing. The 
number of persons covered by this legislation should be 
consistent with current levels of individuals affected.

                            ECONOMIC IMPACT

    S. 1675 would expand the number of radio stations available 
for potential licensees and promote a new media outlet for 
consumers and advertisers.

                                PRIVACY

    S. 1675 is not expected to have an adverse effect on the 
personal privacy of any individuals that will be impacted by 
this legislation.

                               PAPERWORK

    S. 1675 would have minimal or no impact on current 
paperwork levels as the FCC is already issuing LPFM station 
licenses.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 would establish short title of the Act as ``The 
Local Community Radio Act of 2007.''

Section 2. Findings

    Section 2 would set forth a number of Congressional 
findings, including an increase in radio ownership 
consolidation, the importance and difficulty of establishing 
local radio stations, and the developments in policy on LPFM 
stations to date.

Section 3. Repeal of prior law

    Section 3 would repeal the language in the FY 2001 
Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and 
Related Agencies Appropriations Act that required the FCC to 
delay the licensing of LPFM stations on third-adjacent channels 
to full-power FM stations. However, the FCC retains authority 
to prohibit any applicant from obtaining an LPFM license if the 
applicant has violated Section 301 of Communications Act of 
1934. See Section 632 of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, 
and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations 
Act, 2001 (Public Law 106-553; 114 Stat. 16 2762A-111).

Section 4. Minimum distance separation requirements

    Section 4 would require the FCC to modify its rules to 
eliminate third-adjacent minimum distance separation 
requirements between LPFM stations and full-service FM, FM 
translator, and FM booster stations.

Section 5. Protection of radio reading services

    Section 5 would provide interference protection to ``radio 
reading service'' (RRS) stations that provide reading services 
over the radio frequencies to assist the blind. These stations 
broadcast using a sub-carrier frequency, which is more 
susceptible to LPFM interference due to its spacing on an FM 
channel. The FCC currently has a temporary rule preventing LPFM 
stations from operating on a third-adjacent channel to a RRS. 
This section would direct the FCC to make this rule permanent.

Section 6. Ensuring availability of spectrum for LPFM stations

    Section 6 would require that the FCC ensure that licenses 
are available to both FM translator stations and LPFM stations. 
Further, the FCC must consider the needs of the local community 
in such licensing decisions.

Section 7. Prohibitions on certain applicants

    Section 7 would direct the FCC to modify its rules to bar 
any applicant who has engaged in the unlicensed operation of 
any station in violation of section 301 of the Communications 
Act of 1934 from obtaining an LPFM license.

Section 8. Federal Communications Commission rules

    Section 8 would direct the FCC to retain its third-adjacent 
channel protection for full-power FM stations that are licensed 
in significantly populated States.

Section 9. FCC study on impact of LPFM on full-power commercial FM 
        stations

    Section 9 would direct the FCC to conduct an economic study 
on the impact that LPFM stations will have on full-power 
commercial FM stations.

                        Changes in Existing Law

  In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by the bill, 
as reported, are shown as follows (existing law proposed to be 
omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new material is printed 
in italic, existing law in which no change is proposed is shown 
in roman):

DEPARTMENTS OF COMMERCE, JUSTICE, AND STATE, THE JUDICIARY, AND RELATED 
                   AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2001

  [Sec. 632. (a)(1) The Federal Communications Commission shall 
modify the rules authorizing the operation of low-power FM 
radio stations, as proposed in MM Docket No. 99-25, to--
          [(A) prescribe minimum distance separations for 
        third-adjacent channels (as well as for co-channels and 
        first- and second-adjacent channels); and
          [(B) prohibit any applicant from obtaining a low-
        power FM license if the applicant has engaged in any 
        manner in the unlicensed operation of any station in 
        violation of section 301 of the Communications Act of 
        1934 (47 U.S.C. 301).
  [(2) The Federal Communications Commission may not--
          [(A) eliminate or reduce the minimum distance 
        separations for third-adjacent channels required by 
        paragraph (1)(A); or
          [(B) extend the eligibility for application for low-
        power FM stations beyond the organizations and entities 
        as proposed in MM Docket No. 99-25 (47 CFR 73.853), 
        except as expressly authorized by an Act of Congress 
        enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act.
  [(3) Any license that was issued by the Commission to a low-
power FM station prior to the date on which the Commission 
modifies its rules as required by paragraph (1) and that does 
not comply with such modifications shall be invalid.
  [(b)(1) The Federal Communications Commission shall conduct 
an experimental program to test whether low-power FM radio 
stations will result in harmful interference to existing FM 
radio stations if such stations are not subject to the minimum 
distance separations for third-adjacent channels required by 
subsection (a). The Commission shall conduct such test in no 
more than nine FM radio markets, including urban, suburban, and 
rural markets, by waiving the minimum distance separations for 
third-adjacent channels for the stations that are the subject 
of the experimental program. At least one of the stations shall 
be selected for the purpose of evaluating whether minimum 
distance separations for third-adjacent channels are needed for 
FM translator stations. The Commission may, consistent with the 
public interest, continue after the conclusion of the 
experimental program to waive the minimum distance separations 
for third-adjacent channels for the stations that are the 
subject of the experimental program.
  [(2) The Commission shall select an independent testing 
entity to conduct field tests in the markets of the stations in 
the experimental program under paragraph (1). Such field tests 
shall include--
          [(A) an opportunity for the public to comment on 
        interference; and
          [(B) independent audience listening tests to 
        determine what is objectionable and harmful 
        interference to the average radio listener.
  [(3) The Commission shall publish the results of the 
experimental program and field tests and afford an opportunity 
for the public to comment on such results. The Federal 
Communications Commission shall submit a report on the 
experimental program and field tests to the Committee on 
Commerce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate not later 
than February 1, 2001. Such report shall include--
          [(A) an analysis of the experimental program and 
        field tests and of the public comment received by the 
        Commission;
          [(B) an evaluation of the impact of the modification 
        or elimination of minimum distance separations for 
        third-adjacent channels on--
                  [(i) listening audiences;
                  [(ii) incumbent FM radio broadcasters in 
                general, and on minority and small market 
                broadcasters in particular, including an 
                analysis of the economic impact on such 
                broadcasters;
                  [(iii) the transition to digital radio for 
                terrestrial radio broadcasters;
                  [(iv) stations that provide a reading service 
                for the blind to the public; and
                  [(v) FM radio translator stations;
          [(C) the Commission's recommendations to the Congress 
        to reduce or eliminate the minimum distance separations 
        for third-adjacent channels required by subsection (a); 
        and
          [(D) such other information and recommendations as 
        the Commission considers appropriate.]