Republican Slams Microradio Plan  - Reuters

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Reuters report followed by Tauzin contact info..
Republican Slams Microradio Plan Reuters

5:05 p.m. 11.Feb.99.PST
The top Republican in the House overseeing communications policy Thursday blasted a plan to allow thousands of new low-powered radio stations. Representative Billy Tauzin of Louisiana said the Federal Communications Commission plan for so-called microradio would reduce the audience and advertising revenue of current stations and possibly create severe
interference. The FCC "is an agency out of control that demands congressional action to straighten it out," Tauzin said at a luncheon meeting of the National Association of Broadcaster's group of top radio executives.

Tauzin chairs the House Commerce Committee's communications subcommittee. The luncheon meeting, in a private dining room of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Arlington, Virgina, included billionaire Lowry Mays, co-founder of Clear Channel Communications. Tauzin argued that new Internet and satellite radio broadcasters were adding new voices to the airwaves, while current radio and television stations were being underutilized, possibly providing outlets for unheard viewpoints. "Are the stations we have now enough? Are they utilized properly?" Tauzin asked. In some television markets, the children's program Barney was shown on public television 15 times a day, Tauzin said.

But FCC chairman William Kennard urged Tauzin to talk to educational, religious, and community groups that support the microradio plan before opposing the idea. "There is enough room for the voices of churches, schools, and neighborhood groups, as well as established radio companies," Kennard said in a statement released after Tauzin spoke. "I'm sure that Chairman Tauzin does not want to limit Americans' choices to whom or what they can hear on the radio. I hope that when he speaks with the church and community leaders who I have spoken with, he will see the benefits of low-power FM."

After also accusing the FCC of "coercion and extortion" when it reviewed industry-merger deals, Tauzin said he planned to introduce legislation to revamp the agency's structure and powers. "I will need your help, I will need your guidance
and I will need you counsel," the lawmaker told the radio-station owners. Tauzin also said he would introduce a bill to repeal a provision of the 1996 Telecommunications Act that subsidizes Internet connections for schools and libraries. The education rate, or e-rate, discount is funded from fees added to long-distance telephone calls. The program came under fire from some Republicans last year who dubbed it the "Al Gore tax."

Before speaking, Tauzin sent a letter to FCC chairman William Kennard calling the microradio initiative "ill-advised." "I request that you take no further action on this agenda," Tauzin wrote. Last month, the FCC proposed creating hundreds or even thousands of new FM radio stations broadcasting at 1,000 watts down to as little as one watt. Commercial stations typically broadcast at 6,000 watts or more, requiring expensive equipment and massive antenna towers. The proposal was issued for public comment and could be revised or put on hold after the brief comment period.

Supporters of the plan said they were somewhat surprised by Tauzin's opposition. "There's a disconnect between yesterday's rhetoric and today's," said Andrew Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, a nonprofit law firm backing the microradio supporters. "I would have thought that the FCC's use of the Communications Act to end protectionism and permit the entry of hundreds or thousands of new businesses into the most dynamic and growing part of our economy is something Billy Tauzin would be pushing not stopping
>From a third party...

W. J. (Billy) Tauzin, House Commerce Committee's communications
subcommittee, was a Democrat but switched parties recently. He represents
the 3rd district in Louisiana which is mostly Cajun country. The district
voted %51 for Clinton in 1996. He is a tool of the broadcasters.

DC Office 202-225-4031; Fax: 202-225-0563

District Offices:

Chalmette, 504-271-1797; Gonzales, 504-621-8490; Houma, 504-876-3033; New
Iberia, 318-367-8321

    ...and this from a witty microbroadcaster, perhaps starting a whole new field of humour, Tauzin jokes

In response to a question regarding a reaction to Tauzin's opposition of micro-radio,  a Colorado Free Radio Broadcaster said:

"I think that if I was a big pharmaceutical company searching for a name for my new hemmorhoid medication, TAUZIN would be shortlisted."