Thanks to curious loopholes in the FCC’s FM licensing rules, several religious broadcast companies have created national networks on the cheap using low-power, mostly-automated FM transmitters. Using their intimate familiarity with FCC bureaucracy, these companies also engage in spectrum hoarding and speculation.
The practice of spectrum speculation is nothing new, it’s a kind of side-industry in the broadcast business. Although they very seldom actually build a radio station, speculators apply for and acquire radio station construction permits and then sell them to the highest bidder. Channel spaces on the FM dial are a finite commodity – where supply is low and demand high a savvy speculator can make quite a bit of money if they have permits to build radio stations in growing markets. Continue reading “God Squads Fall From Grace”
REC Networks makes some remarkable math: the entity doing business as translator-mongers Edgewater Broadcasting and Radio Assist Ministries is cleaning up on the FM dial. Combined, Edgewater/RAM currently hold 1,026 construction permits for translator stations. This is of more than 4,200 license applications filed (~2,300 applications still pending).
Of these, REC then lists (in an e-mail) 83 sales or transfers of Edgewater/RAM construction permits – the recipients of whom just happen to be other translator-mongers, like the American Family Association and Calvary Chapel Church, Inc.
Three multi-translator transactions involved Edgewater/RAM handing over 26 construction permits in Florida to “Reach Communications (Calvary Chapel Church, Inc.)” for $326,500. The total revenue generated by the 83 transactions is just over $800,000. Continue reading “Moneychangers In the Temple”
On Tuesday a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard a case advanced by the American Library Association and eight partners challenging the validity of an FCC decision to require digital television sets and video recorders to comply with broadcast flag technology. A broadcast flag is essentially a copy protection mechanism embedded in the data stream of DTV content. “Activation” of the flag will make it impossible to record or play back DTV programs unless done so on “approved” devices. Under the FCC decree as it stands presently electronics-makers will have to roll out broadcast flag-compliant devices in July. Continue reading “D.C. Circuit Seems Wary of Broadcast Flag”
Last week REC Networks released a comprehensive report on all LPFM stations which face interference, displacement, and the varying degrees of signal encroachment in between from full-power FM stations. The report runs 110 pages. REC’s also been keeping a close eye on the DTV transition, and reports that of all of the stations currently broadcasting on Channel 6, only five have requested to stay on their analog channel past the transition cutoff date (to be determined).
Got some reliable information on the political situation in D.C. It seems that the National Association of Broadcasters is busy fighting bigger problems, like losing its request that all DTV channels be carried on cable, and the indecency hot potato, and others. At the LPFM Day not so long ago a new LPFM rulemaking was hinted at. Perhaps this can accomplish at the agency level what the Local Community Radio Act of 2005 is trying to do. There’s definitely a better chance of expanding LPFM at the FCC level, especially while the NAB’s playing defense on the legislative front. I think the folks at NPR are mature enough to see that it’s time to cede the issue. Continue reading “LPFM Notes; Media Reform Conference Redux”
Kyle Drake, the revolutionary LPAM guru whom I had the pleasure to meet at the RAD Conference, has unleashed something with great potential to give LPAM a significant kickstart in the proliferation department.
Key to this is a tunable loading coil – vitally important because it conquers what is probably the biggest drawback to liberation of the AM dial, the unwieldy nature of the antenna system. He’s designed one that works well. Continue reading “LPAM's Appleseed Bears Fruit”
Two recent articles profile the appearance of new pirate stations in the state. One is relatively straightforward, the other reads like a Puritan beef. The latter station profiled, Dream Team Radio, covers multiple cities with two frequencies. It also has turned the “safe harbor” concept on its head – broadcasting “N-words and F-bombs” during the day and going to “love songs generally free of raunch” overnight.
When the media starts bitching the FCC (and, in the state of Florida, licensed broadcasters and law enforcement) are likely to take notice and make some examples of somebody. Perhaps that somebody will be Doug Brewer, formerly of Tampa’s Party Pirate fame, who closes out the first article with a somewhat damning cameo: Continue reading “Florida Media Complains: "Didn't We Outlaw Them?"”
Skidmark Bob reports a special guest dropped into the Free Radio Santa Cruz studios recently: Tracy James of Slave Revolt Radio fame. They talked about their microradio experiences and Tracy gave an update on the (SF) Bay area microradio scene. Berkeley Liberation Radio is alive and well and plans are afoot to launch a station in West Oakland. Recently Tracy, Bob, and fellow FRSCista George Cadman were guests on a show hosted by KPFT’s Norton Scooter, which is available via Radio4All. Continue reading “Scene Report: California”
The big day came and went Tuesday, much rhetoric was bandied about and even Mikey Powell said nice things about community radio (all of the other Commissioners, except Jonathan Adelstein, made appearances). The proceedings were webcast and the archive can be watched here (Real Player required).
Two panels were held: the first was basically made up of representatives of LPFM stations around the country who talked up the good work they do and diplomatically chastised the FCC for not expanding the service out to its full potential. Continue reading “LPFM Day Reviewed; KFAR Packs It In?”
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) plans to reintroduce a bill (which died of inaction last session) that would expand the FCC’s LPFM service back out to its original parameters as defined in 2000. She’s released a statement touting the initiative as a plus for media diversity (though she’s off by a week on LPFM’s fifth birthday, but that’s just nitpicking).
However, the more exciting legislative action seems to be taking place at the state level. Although state broadcast lobbies in Florida and New Jersey are criminalizing unlicensed broadcasting, there is a new push afoot in another state (which will remain nameless so as to keep the lobbyists at bay for as long as possible) to enact legislation that would put control of broadcast radio stations whose signals do not cross a state line under the control of that state’s regulator of public utilities. Continue reading “LPFM Legislation Redux; Taking Initiative at the State Level”