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FCC Opens Window of Opportunity for Tribes to own Radio Stations

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  • FCC Opens Window of Opportunity for Tribes to own Radio Stations

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    FCC Opens Window of Opportunity for Tribes to own Radio Stations

    Tracy Wind, Times correspondent 4/9/2007

    The world of radio is opening up a one week time window in which organizations can apply for a channel of its own on FM radio. For the first time in 6 years the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is opening up spots for future would be radio owners starting Friday October 12, 2007 to Friday October 19, 2007.

    Peggy Berryhill, Director of Services and Planning for Native Public Media, urges tribes to start the paperwork now in order to be ready for the window. There are a limited amount of spots and only one week in which to apply. No one will be allowed to apply before or after the window opening in October.

    The Channels are for non-Commercial Educational (NCE) radio stations and applicants must have an educational mission, no individual ownership is allowed, applicants must be non-profit organizations. NCE stations usually carry NPR programs, like Prairie Home Companion, Car Talk, Morning Edition local news etc.

    According to Berryhill, "Native stations are "hybrids" meaning they carry NPR but produce a lot of their own programs. Local news, health and safety, lots of music, mainly country and rock but you can also hear blues, reggae, traditional Native music and contemporary Native music."

    Berryhill also believes it can be used as a tool for tribal members young and old be able to turn on the radio and hear their Native language coming out at them. Also the radio would be a great tool in getting up to date information out to members. A tribal radio station would also allow tribes to encourage and help members interested in broadcast media gain valuable training and experience.

    There are numerous steps that must be taken in order to get a station up and running including funding. The filing window is this October but delays for approval of applications may allow tribes to raise capitol needed to complete the project. The amount needed for a station would depend on the size of the transmitter, building costs, and other expenses. It could run a tribe between $50,000-$250,000.

    "We're constantly bombarded by media, this is the age of media and content production that is produced on personal computers. Most content about Native Americans is not produced by Native producers. Therefore the image of Native Americans is still largely stereotypical because we are not producing our own content," Berryhill told the Native Times.

    She also stated that "According to the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and Native Public Media, Native-owned radio stations account for less than .3% of the more than 13,000 radio stations in the United States and almost all operate on shoestring budgets. Non-Native media outlets rarely include the voices, perspectives and issues of Native people. In media policy, Natives are virtually invisible."

    There are many steps to be taken says Berryhill, and it will take time and money. But if a tribe or organization is serious it can be done. There are a few tribes in the United States who already have stations and, according to Berryhill, this is an opportunity of a lifetime for others to do the same.

    "Native Public Media urges tribes and native organizations to become media owners and content providers. If we don't supply our own voices who will?" says Berryhill.

    There are several organizations which can help tribes find and engineer and help prepare an application like Native Public Media ( ), Public Radio Capitol ( ), Prometheus Radio Project ( ), AIROS or that supplies audio content like documentaries and other music. Most Native stations use a service called NV1 (Native Voice One - see ) that produces, Native America Calling, National Native News, Earthsongs, Undercurrents, etc.

    For information on filing procedures and requirements please visit . Updates will also be added to the website during the months up to the October window. You can also visit the Native Public Media website , which has a wealth of information that can help tribes.

    NTN Article#: 8686

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