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Low blows over low-power FM

Bickering over low-power radio continued last week, even though the legislative fight was in a lull after the House voted to cut back the new service.

Spurred by allegations of improper lobbying on behalf of low-power, FCC Chairman William Kennard insists his agency did nothing wrong. Last Wednesday, he bluntly told his chief antagonist, House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.), to bone up on Justice Department guidelines spelling out how federal agencies may seek support for their policies on Capitol Hill.

The 1995 guidance says agencies may "communicate directly with Congress in support of administration or department positions," according to passages delivered to Tauzin.

The primary prohibition, Kennard notes, merely bars agencies from soliciting the public to write letters to lawmakers.

A Tauzin spokesman called Kennard's retort a "generous interpretation of the law" and said his boss will still press for a Justice Department investigation of FCC lobbying.