Heinrich’s bill would support local radio stations | My opinion



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New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, together with Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, recently reintroduced the Local Radio Freedom Act, “a resolution declaring that Congress should not impose new royalties, taxes, fees or other charges ”on local radio stations. to stream free music to listeners.

Heinrich said he was proud to “keep fighting to keep radio alive” because “in parts of New Mexico – especially in rural areas – local radio remains the beating heart for communities to access. local and national news, emergency alerts, educational programs, etc. “He is right, and the state needs him more than ever.

In March 2020, New Mexico began using the Emergency Alert System, an information hub that connects to residents via radio, television, and text messages, to provide updates related to COVID-19. However, more than a quarter of New Mexicans do not have a broadband connection, and in some cases local radio is the only way for them to receive these critical alerts.

If Congress adds new fees to local broadcasters, some New Mexicans could lose the one and only mechanism they have for hearing important state and federal announcements.

Many of these stations are already struggling to stay afloat. Take Madrid-based KMRD. The Albuquerque Journal reported that not only was the station completely built by volunteers, but “a local electronics expert assembled the sound card from a kit and a community blacksmith built the 26ft mast to contain the antenna that transmits the signal of a hill outside. All the DJs are also volunteers; Yet the resort still has large bills to pay and has resorted to launching online campaigns to raise the funds it needs. “

Many other New Mexico resorts are in the same boat. For example, Byron Powdrell says his station, KMGG, based in Albuquerque, relies on subscription (thanking airlines for sponsorships) to stay afloat and that, “essentially, [he works] two jobs just to keep this thing on the air.

In many cases, these local broadcast stations are one of the only outlets available to causes, sects and interest groups within the state. Forcing them to stop airing would effectively cause many people in the state to lose their voice, their representation and even their sense of belonging.

Powdrell created his station in part because the metro Albuquerque area had no other black urban programming media option. In the same vein, the association Las Placitas, a non-profit organization which “strives to protect our open spaces, the fauna, the watersheds and the unique environmental and cultural wealth of this region for the generations of today. ‘today and tomorrow’, authorizes another local station, KUPR based in Placitas. , to raise awareness of conservation issues.

Joan Fennicle, one of the board members for the nonprofit, said: “We’re supposed to raise awareness in the wider community and it seemed like a great way to do it. One way to open doors. Congress must keep these doors open by supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act and refraining from adding new fees to these critical stations.

New Mexicans who rely on local radio for free entertainment, news, weather and inclement weather critical emergency information appreciate Heinrich for once again bringing forward this important resolution. The other New Mexico senator, Ben Ray Luján, once supported the Local Radio Freedom Act and has long supported local state radio stations. As chairman of the powerful Communications and Broadband Subcommittee, Luján’s support for the Local Radio Freedom Act would have added weight in ensuring that radio stations in New Mexico were not not subject to new onerous fees.

It’s the 21st century. No one in this state should ever feel in the dark about what is going on in their community. With the help of their delegation to Congress, they will have no reason to feel this way.

Supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act will ensure that all New Mexicans have access not only to free entertainment, but also to critical news and information.

Robin Dozier Otten is president of Save New Mexico, an independent committee dedicated to improving New Mexico today and for future generations.

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