Senate Proposes "Local Emergency Radio Service Preservation Act"
March 16, 2006
A trio of United States Senators have introduced the "Local Emergency Radio Service Preservation Act of 2006," which would require the FCC to decide in the near future if satellite radio should allow locally-oriented information and programming on their national channels. The bill was introduced by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Max Baucus (R-MT) and Trent Lott (R-MS).
The new legislation is basically the same as a House bill from last year that already has 111 co-sponsors. The type of localized programming in question that XM and Sirius carries includes local weather and traffic reports. This bill would basically prevent the satcasters from including “locally differentiated” content.
The bill says that "because radio programming is supported by advertising, the ability of local stations to continue to provide local news and other services and to ensure communications during emergencies could be jeopardized by a diversion of the listening audience away from local radio programming."
The NAB has come out in support of the bill, with President/CEO David Rehr saying in a statement that the organization "applauds Sens. Snowe, Baucus and Lott for introducing legislation designed to preserve the rich tradition of local broadcasting. It is crystal clear that both XM and Sirius – with nearly $1 billion in combined losses last year and having failed as a national programming service – are skirting the intent of their original FCC licenses. This bill holds satellite radio accountable to those licenses."
He adds, "With introduction of today’s legislation – coupled with a companion bill in the House - NAB looks forward to educating lawmakers on the invaluable role played by free, local radio every day in communities all across America."