Expansion of Native FMs at risk

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Native Public Media has asked federal policymakers to extend the construction permit deadline for tribal groups to launch new noncommercial educational FM radio stations. The Federal Communications Commission awarded CPs for 38 tribal stations under its 2007 NCE filing window, potentially doubling the number of outlets broadcasting to Native communities.

“Because of the economic recession, and threatened cutbacks in federal funding to NTIA’s Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, many of those permits are at risk of expiring,” Loris Taylor, NPM executive director, said during an April 5 Senate hearing on broadband policy. “If these permits expire, the opportunity for reapplying is not likely to arise for many years to come.”

NPM is requesting a one-year extension for permit-holders and preservation of congressional appropriations for PTFP and CPB. “Without continued support for station operations from CPB, all Native stations are in jeopardy,” Taylor said.

On the broadband front, Taylor urged lawmakers to support recent FCC initiatives to provide access to digital media and basic telecommunications services in Native American communities. She called for the commission’s Tribal Priority policy to be extended to landless tribes and for $1.5 million in funding for its new Office of Native Affairs and Policy. “We ask that you take this office and its functions as seriously as we do by assuring that it is adequately funded,” she said. [PDF of Taylor’s testimony]

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