Location: United States

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed by Congress in 1996 and was one in a long line of regulators in the U.S. (FRC, FCC, Congress) siding with powerful incumbents to the detriment of diversity on the airwaves (see also, “Propaganda Stations” in the 1920’s and 1930’s, or the treatment of the falsified reports that the newly established FM band would cause interference later proved untrue). Massive amounts media consolidation followed the act. A grassroots effort started with communities activists starting unlicensed FM radio stations. “Mbanna Kantako (http://www.humanrightsradio.net/), a blind DJ in a housing project in Illinois who started a tenants’ rights and anti police brutality radio station called WTRA ; and Stephen Dunifer, a peace activist and engineer who ran an antiwar radio station out of a backpack from the hills in Berkeley, California… In Dunifer’s case, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tried and failed for four years to get the courts to issue an injunction against his broadcasts. Eventually, his station was shut down in 1998, but not before close to one thousand pirate radio stations had started up in the shadow of the legal whirlpool created by his (almost successful) case against the system of broadcast laws.” Fines, equipment confiscations, and injunctions ensued and Prometheus Radio was formed to help steer the political debate around creating a new, licensed, hyper-local community radio service. The FCC voted to create LPFM on January 20th of 2000 and netted 7000 applications soon after. A campaign led by NAB and NPR followed to battle this service. “No tactic, it seemed, was out-of-bounds. The National Association of Broadcasters even went so far as to put together a compact disc filled with sample “sounds of interference” (http://diymedia.net/old/audio/mp3/nablpfmpropaganda.mp3) LPFM stations would cause and gave a copy to each member of Congress… What the lawmakers didn’t know, or understand, was the sounds they were hearing were artificially manufactured and, therefore, designed to mislead. However, this CD was played nearly in its entirety in front of a House Subcommittee at an open hearing. That act skirted the bounds of legality, but it definitely crossed the ethical line” https://www.diymedia.net/the-history-of-lpfm/7338/ https://www.prometheusradio.org/our-history Freedman, Des. Strategies for Media Reform. p. 183 Video option: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPh68vh_Hc8