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Expand low-power radio stations

Gloria Tristani | 3/24/2009, 10:38 a.m.

Low-power radio promotes localism and diversity, not by limiting the rights of existing voices, but by adding new voices to the mix. Congress must enhance the statutory obligation to “encourage the larger and more effective use of radio in the public interest” by allowing this service to expand.

Members of Congress from both political parties have recently introduced a proposal to do just that. President Barack Obama’s past support of similar legislation, as well as his pledges to encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media and to promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, demonstrate his commitment to expanding low-power radio.

Moreover, expanding low-power radio is a popular demand of community and civil rights groups, churches, schools, immigrants and average citizens. When I served as an FCC commissioner, we received scores of calls and letters from people across the country who wanted to use the public airwaves to reach out to their communities, or who wanted to hear more diversity and local content that reflects their community. These people’s voices have been ignored for far too long. It’s time we hear them out. We can do so by expanding low-power radio.

Gloria Tristani is a former FCC commissioner.