NPR should have better ways to compete than thwarting new noncom radio stations
Nov. 11, 2009.
To the editors:
Good job on reporting the trade-offs on Capitol Hill, as LPFMs make slow headway against a wall of objections by incumbent broadcasters (“House panel endorses LPFM compromise,” Oct. 26, 2009). The inglorious role of NPR in all this is familiar, but still discouraging.
Because LPFM expands local noncommercial service to the public, the complaints of NPR were always a little hard to accept at face value. NPR never should have lent its support (for bogus reasons) to the legislation adopted in 2001 that imposed strict third-adjacent channel separations on LPFMs.
The next battleground, according to the article, will be LPFM interference to HD Radio.
Interference, where it occurs, is far more likely to run the other way, caused by HD Radio and suffered by the LPFM.
HD Radio by design bleeds over both edges of the 200 kHz allotment for an FM station. The incumbent stations were handed this additional edge spectrum without being required to pay for it. They now seek the windfall of more such free spectrum by using more output power for HD. It would seem only fair that HD Radio stations be required at least to pay the full cost of any displacement or injury to any affected station, especially to a nonprofit LPFM.
Also, NPR now is arguing for a statutory ban on any relaxation of the first- and second-adjacent mileage separations. There are well established methods for taking terrain into account and for assuring the absence of destructive interference. NPR would prefer that the FCC have no discretion to consider these tools in the future, generally or even in compelling cases.
The Current article closes with the candid admission of one participant in the LPFM debate that, because of the economy, no one can stand to lose a single listener.
Unfortunately, every new firm that enters a business takes customers away from the established firms. In America we generally consider this a feature of competition, not a bug. Instead of trying to thwart new entry to public broadcasting, NPR stations and their membership organization could better use their energy to retain old audience and donors and find new ones, by delivering ever improving program services.
The campaign to prevent new public service authored in part by NPR, an organization partly funded by taxpayers, certainly raises a valid question as to whether there might be better public service uses for that taxpayers’ money.
The writer is a communications attorney who has long been involved with community radio.
Web page posted Nov. 11, 2009
Copyright 2009 by Current LLC
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