WASHINGTON — If FCC chairman Bill Kennard has his way, mini-radio stations will blossom all over the country during the next year, giving churches, schools and community groups a powerful new voice in their neighborhoods.
The stations will be limited to 100 watts and even as little as 10 watts in many major cities. Under Kennard’s leadership, the FCC has approved the rule authorizing so-called micro-radio station licenses. Kennard sees the new outlets as one small effort by his agency to counter the dizzying pace of major media consolidation.
At a press conference this week, Kennard said the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires his agency to sign off on some of the biggest mergers. But at the same time, his concern about the concentration of major media outlets in fewer and fewer hands encouraged him to push for the micro-radio proposal.
The National Assn. of Broadcasters vigorously opposed the micro-radio proposal, which it said would lead to interference with major commercial radio station signals. The rules prevent existing commercial broadcasters from buying a micro-radio station.