WASHINGTON -- NAB Radio Board First Vice Chair Caroline Beasley, executive vice president and CFO of Beasley Broadcast Group, is scheduled to testify today before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. Beasley's testimony focuses on low-power FM stations and H.R. 1147, the Local Community Radio Act.
A transcript of Beasley's oral testimony, as prepared, follows below:
Good morning Chairman Boucher, Ranking Member Stearns and Subcommittee members, my name is Caroline Beasley. I am the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Beasley Broadcast Group, a family-owned company, which owns and operates 44 radio stations in 11 markets. I am testifying today on behalf of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) where I serve as Vice Chair of the NAB Radio Board.
My main message today is that full power FM stations and low power FM stations can co-exist. There is a role for each to play within their communities. And there is a process in place to continue licensing LPFM at the FCC. That being said, it is also important to maintain interference guidelines that protect listeners to both services.
The hallmark of full power radio broadcasting is service to our communities. Broadcasters provide unequaled community service and contribute billions of dollars locally through direct fundraising, charitable giving, and donated airtime. We air a wide range of music and entertainment, provide local news, act as a lifeline in times of crisis, heighten awareness of important issues, and inform voters.
In times of emergency, local radio broadcasters rise to the occasion. Local broadcasters will break from regular programming and stay on the air to reach the public and share essential information. In 2008, as wildfires ravaged Southwest Florida, Beasley responded as five of our stations helped raise funds for families that lost homes. When an explosion occurred at a sugar refinery in Georgia, a neighboring Beasley station acted as a communications center between the public and officials dealing with the disaster. The station was flooded with offers of help and assistance for victims of the explosion. Listeners have come to expect this involvement from their local broadcasters, and we will always be there for them.
In serving our local communities, broadcasters are concerned about interference. Simply, a listener that experiences interference is a lost listener - one who will change the channel and stop tuning in. This is a person we may not reach at a critical time during an emergency.
The engineering study commissioned by the FCC and the subsequent recommendations to Congress address the subject of interference. A common perception of the report is that interference is simply not a problem and the policy should be changed. The study, however, showed that interference did in fact result from an LPFM station operating on a third adjacent channel. At various test sites, significant degradation was found during listening. Some full power FM programs had static. Some were not heard at all. And at other times a different program could be heard in the background. These factors were not present when the LPFM test station was "turned off", but subsequently occurred when the LPFM station was "turned on". In view of these findings, the study recommended consideration of a formula or way in which to mitigate the interference.
The NAB's analysis was that harmful interference would be far more prevalent than the government's report, and our objections to that report were documented at length. Moreover, it is significant to note that even the government's commissioned report did not recommend a wholesale elimination of third adjacent channel protection.
There is a process in place at the FCC for approving LPFMs, and to date, 865 stations have been licensed. Under existing rules, there is also a great deal of capacity remaining for the licensing of additional low power FM stations. Nationwide, there is room for tens of thousands of additional LPFMs. This is possible under the existing third adjacent channel protection policy.
Interference is a real concern for local broadcasters and buffer protections
are necessary and make sense. Any policy discussion to remove third
adjacent channel protection should carefully balance interference risk
to both full power and low power FM services. Even with third adjacent
protections in place, there are examples of harmful interference caused
by LPFM stations that are not adhering to existing technical regulations.
Enforcement remains an issue and increasing the chance of interference
through a policy change affects all listeners and may increase the likelihood
of a lost listener at a time of need or emergency.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to testify. And thank you, Mr. Doyle, for the chance to discuss your legislation. I can appreciate your interest in providing greater opportunity and diversity in radio, and I hope we can work together to further that goal.
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. As the voice of more than 8,300 radio and television stations, NAB advances their interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.