More Corporate Piracy: FCC Takes 9, Leaves 6

As June slips away I want to highlight a few other interesting FCC happenings that got crowded off the radar by the hoopla and its reverberations this month. The rest of the loose ends will follow later in the week.
First up is FCC administrative law judge Richard L. Sippel’s June 19 decision to revoke two licenses for FM stations owned by Peninsula Communications in Alaska. This case has been wending its way through the agency for several years and involves the company’s creation of a seven-station translator network, which it had been operating in violation of the FCC’s translator rules since 1994. A $140,000 fine (collection pending) and one federal court injunction later, Peninsula finally silenced the stations last August. The seven translators were fed by two full-power stations; in addition to those Peninsula also owns one AM station, one FM station, and an additional four FM translators. Continue reading “More Corporate Piracy: FCC Takes 9, Leaves 6”

FCC Strikes Again in Vermont, Florida

More reports of microradio enforcement activity stretch the FCC’s efforts this month from coast to coast. Radio Free Brattleboro, a Vermont microradio station that got its start in a teen center some five years ago, got a nasty visit from two FCC agents Tuesday. Video was recorded of the incident (which we hope to get) and although the agents had no search warrant a list containing contact information for many of RFB’s volunteers is missing from the station. Radio Free Brattleboro’s web site went down at approximately the same time as the visit.
From RFB’s official announcement: “It’s a real shame because in addition to providing entertainment and information to the community, we have trained hundreds of local citizens of all ages in the art of radio broadcasting.” DJ trainer Steven Twiss emailed with more pointed reaction: “The community here is building up a nice case of outrage.” Continue reading “FCC Strikes Again in Vermont, Florida”

Amendment One Gauges Senate Media Reform Stances

Don Schellhardt’s June installment of Amendment One summarizes the latest action on various legislative efforts to reform or repeal the FCC’s decision earlier this month to relax media ownership rules. It includes an excellent supplement that details each individual Senator’s position on the issue.
June has been a busy month for media reform forces in Washington, D.C. Don’s handling the beat for us, but another excellent news source for congressional news is the Free Press Media Reform Network’s Washington Watch, as they have people working Capitol Hill. Continue reading “Amendment One Gauges Senate Media Reform Stances”

Speculative Skinny: Inside the Development of "Progressive" Talk Radio

The announcement earlier this spring that “a group of wealthy Democrats” had assembled a $10 million endowment to launch a “progressive talk-radio network” caused a small flurry of mainstream media coverage; the quotes in this case come from a widely-syndicated column by author Thom Hartmann.
The “group of wealthy Democrats,” operating under the moniker AnShell Media, are currently deeply involved in the process of creating this “progressive” talk radio lineup. The new network will launch in late 2003 or early 2004. Once the talent list is ready, AnShell will still need to invest a significant sum to create the broadcast infrastructure to distribute its programming. Given the launch date, this will likely happen within the next few months.
AnShell has two options to create this infrastructure: construct its own broadcast network facilities or buy someone else’s. Continue reading “Speculative Skinny: Inside the Development of "Progressive" Talk Radio”

Free Radio San Diego Gets Second FCC Visit; Other CA Pirates on Alert

The dynamic duo who visited Free Radio San Diego last month were caught sniffing around the premises again on Monday; video was reportedly shot of the not-quite-encounter but has not yet been released. Recent reports have also confirmed that FCC agents have been found lurking around at least one other California microradio station, whose location will remain nameless to protect the identity of sources (the FCC reads this site, too).
Historically speaking FCC enforcement activities against unlicensed broadcasters spikes in July. The activity pattern is nationwide.
I’m not sure why this happens: my personal theory is that FCC field agents are like lizards – cold-blooded creatures that must warm to the task of getting feisty. Plus, who wouldn’t want to get out of the office more during summer?

Disney/ABC Dumps NAB

Today ABC/Disney resigned its membership in the National Association of Broadcasters, who now represent none of the major television networks: Fox and NBC bailed out in 2000 and CBS followed a year later.
This particular marriage dissolved over the NAB’s resistance to increasing the television ownership caps. On June 2 the FCC raised the cap allowing TV broadcast companies to own enough stations to reach 45% of the viewing audience, up 10% from the previous limit. The networks wanted the caps raised so they could buy more stations and bring them under direct network control; the companies that own most affiliates didn’t want increased pressure from the networks. Since the vast majority of U.S. TV stations are NOT network-owned and operated, it was easy to see how the NAB would come down in this fight. Continue reading “Disney/ABC Dumps NAB”

Netherlands Radio Protest Successful

News is scant but it appears the weekend’s “100,000 Antennes” mass broadcast/protest in Amsterdam in support of free radio movement went off without incident. Dutch police and radio enforcement authorities apparently kept their cool and let the events take place without interfering. People have published few articles to Indymedia Netherlands as of yet, but one of them features an MP3 interview with U.S. microradio academic Ron Sakolsky, who traveled over to take part in the festivities.

Dutch Pirates to Protest Crackdown En Masse

Little warning of a big event taking place in the Netherlands this weekend in protest of the Dutch government’s recent mass auction of the radio spectrum and companion crackdown on the vibrant pirate scene. The news comes from Vrije Radio:
“The Dutch government’s recently implemented Zerobase Radio Frequency Policy is designed to control and regulate free use of the ether by commercial radio stations. On May 23 this year most available space on the Dutch airwaves was auctioned off to the highest bidder. It should come as no surprise to anyone that as a result of this auction it has become clear that for the next eight years only the biggest, most commercially and mainstream oriented stations will be able to exploit the remaining Dutch frequencies. The government’s claim to preserve diversity in the new airwave distribution has proven to be a fraud.”
“The Zerobase Policy acknowledges only two kinds of radio: public and commercial. Any radio formats that don’t fit within either of these categories have in effect become criminal organisations. Zerobase’s nasty little brother “Project Etherflits”, an initiative of the Department of Economic Affairs, has since March of this year been pro-actively identifying and tracking “illegal” broadcasters throughout the North and East of the country, confiscating studio equipment and imposing large fines. Many stations have already been forced off the air.” Continue reading “Dutch Pirates to Protest Crackdown En Masse”

A/V Links of Note

V-Man, Freak Radio Santa Cruz‘s indyjournalist extraordinaire, is back doing daily news programs on the station. Last month he devoted a show to  the state of U.S. microradio (MP3, 33:43, 7.8 MB). Guests included DJ American from Free Radio Olympia and Bob Ugly from Free Radio San Diego, who gave details on his recent up-close and personal visit from the FCC. Thinking of Bob out there interrogating FCC agents “in 50s wigs, sunglasses and a bandanna” makes the listening to the experience even more special.
On the funny tip is this Flash animation of FCC Chairman Mikey Powell as U.S. Minister of Information, courtesy of the creative generosity of Mark Fiore. I especially like the Disney/Viacom/Fox tank battalion that drives through in the background at one point. Mikey’s a guy who deserves more of this satire.