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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

May 13, 1999
David Fiske at (202) 418-0500

Statement of FCC Chairman William E. Kennard
at Roundtable Discussion on Low Power FM

Thank you Reverend Mack, Reverend Campbell, Reverend Parker.

Many of you may not know this history, but in 1964, on his own, Reverend Parker reviewed the practices of local television stations in Jackson, Mississippi. He found that the black population of Jackson-- 45 percent of the audience -- was ignored by the local media. Even worse, when the national networks ran an interview with Dr. Martin Luther King, the local stations replaces the network feed with a sign indicating network signal problems.

Reverend Parker joined with the NAACP and challenged theses stations' licenses. While the FCC expressed regret at the actions of the television stations, they approved their licenses anyway. Reverend Parker then took the FCC to court. And won. In an opinion by the future Chief Justice of the United States, the court held that the FCC failed in its duty to protect the interest of the community.

That the FCC has a duty to ensure that licensees of the public airwaves serve their local communities.

In the last few months, I've heard from thousands of people who want to use the airwaves to speak to their communities -- churches, community groups, elementary schools, colleges, and minority groups. In the Commission's proposal for a low power radio service, these people see the opportunity to have their voices carry through their communities. To have their voices heard. And to bring together their communities through a shared message broadcast to all -- whether a church service, a school concert or assembly, or a speech by a local public official.

As FCC Chairman my job is ensure that the public spectrum is used to benefit all Americans. But we must do it in a way that protects existing broadcast signals and does not impede the conversion to digital radio. We need to work together - and together with existing broadcasters - to make this work for everyone.

- FCC -