January 28, 1999
As we've traveled around the country we've talked to lots of people who want to use the airwaves, to speak to their communities -- churches, community groups, elementary schools, universities, small businesses, and minority groups. They see - as we do - that the airwaves are a great natural resource, and the creation of a low power radio service could provide an effective way for more people to use this resource.
As consolidation in the broadcast industry closes the doors of opportunity for new entrants, we must find ways to use the broadcast spectrum more efficiently so that we can bring more voices to the airwaves. The Notice adopted today proposes several ways to do so.
As we consider the establishment of a low power radio service, we will be mindful of interference concerns. We will not undermine the technical integrity of the FM band. Our job is to be the guardian of the spectrum, not to degrade it.
And we are mindful of the conversion to digital. We are currently considering USA Digital Radio's petition to establish an in-band, on-channel digital broadcasting service and we are following the testing and development of in-band digital systems. This is a great start, and we will do our part to make sure that local radio is not left on the sidelines of the digital revolution.
However, we cannot deny opportunities to those who want to use the airwaves to speak to their communities simply because it might be inconvenient for those who already have these opportunities.
In the past, the Commission has faced incumbents raising obstacles that might impede the development of new technology. We saw this with the development of cable television service, low power television, direct broadcast satellites, and the digital audio radio service. In each instance, the Commission was able to overcome these obstacles and bring these new technologies to the American people, and in every case, the American people have benefited from new services and competition while the incumbent industry has continued to prosper.
Therefore, we ask the broadcast community to work with the Commission in developing today's proposals for a low power radio service that will coexist with the incumbent services. In this way, we can work together to maximize use of the airwaves for the benefit of the American public.