Florida War on Pirates: Going Nowhere?

Last November, state officials got a conviction involving a used-car dealer that rented out space on a tower to two pirate stations. Accused initially of felonious unlicensed broadcasting, but he ultimately copped to a lesser charge.
But what about the cases of Marquis McDonald and Rasheem O’Riley, two men arrested last July who were held up then as being “test cases” for the new law? They were directly involved in the operation of stations and one even admitted to owning some of the radio gear police seized. Continue reading “Florida War on Pirates: Going Nowhere?”

Hams In Decline

According to this handy web site, which tracks the amateur radio licensing statistics of the FCC, the number of licensed hams has been in a steady decline for the better part of three years. The numbers (as of January 2006) show that there are just over 660,000 amateur radio license-holders in the United States, a decline of nearly 28,000 since mid-2003 (in chart form, since 1997).
On average, between 1,000 and 2,000 new amateur licenses are issued every month, although a larger number expire. By decade, amateur radio licenses have been in a net growth pattern until the year 2000; for this decade the aggregate growth number is negative. Interestingly, less than half of all hams are members of the American Radio Relay League. Continue reading “Hams In Decline”

Don Rumsfeld, A Father of FOIA?

In a recent appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld remarked that he was a cosponsor of the Freedom of Information Act during his 1960s stint in the House of Representatives. This is a claim made, as it was here, to parry a critical question about the Pentagon’s penchant for unjustifiable secrecy.
It was, however, the first time I had actually heard it leave his mouth. Given the other things to come out of there, I was compelled to verify for my own peace of mind. Indeed, S. 1160 was co-sponsored by then-congressman Rumsfeld, who hailed from west-suburban Chicago. He sat on the House’s Committee on Government Operations, through which the bill was unanimously endorsed on its way to a full vote. He also spoke on the House floor in support of it. Continue reading “Don Rumsfeld, A Father of FOIA?”

Tracing Media Industry Sock-Puppetry

Last October, Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays proclaimed at a luncheon of the Progress & Freedom Foundation that his company was at a competitive disadvantage to satellite radio, comparing the ~150 nationwide channels each satellite service offers to the eight frequencies Clear Channel may occupy in a single market (lest we forget Clear Channel owns more than 1,200 stations nationwide). This, coupled with other whoppers, constituted a call for the FCC to relax its radio ownership rules. Specifically,
In markets with 60 stations or more, there is room to raise the local ownership cap from eight to ten stations. In markets with 75 stations or more, there is room to raise the local ownership cap from eight to twelve stations. Continue reading “Tracing Media Industry Sock-Puppetry”

Stern Pirates Go Coast-to-Coast

Last month FM microbroadcasters in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Minnesota began rebroadcasting the subscription-only Howard Stern show from Sirius satellite radio. Sirius got so pissed that they fired off complaints to the FCC about the NY/NJ stations and threatened to sue any online-streamers into oblivion.
They couldn’t have been happy with the report this month that Pirate Cat Radio, a station well-known for wearing its defiance on its sleeve, began carrying Stern over San Francisco. Pirate Cat’s founder, Monkey Man, told a local tee-vee station that the show would go on unless Howard himself intervenes. As for the FCC: “They can come and talk, and if they’d like to I’ll fix a pot of coffee and have my wife make ’em some cookies.” Continue reading “Stern Pirates Go Coast-to-Coast”

Dave Rabbit Reappears

The Vietnam-era GI pirate station Radio First Termer has long been a legend. DJ “Dave Rabbit” and friends played rock music and talked openly about sex, drugs, and the f*cked up nature of the U.S. military’s presence in-country. Scant audio evidence of the station has survived, and the last few decades have seen lots of speculation over whether the station and its personalities actually existed.
That speculation can now be laid to rest. A shortwave pirate sent me this PDF of a document reportedly written by Dave Rabbit himself. In it he gives details about how the station was put together (from military-grade broadcast gear courtesy of the U.S. Air Force’s “Midnight Supply”); where it broadcast from (the back room of a whorehouse in Saigon); and how long it remained on the air (a short three weeks). Continue reading “Dave Rabbit Reappears”

Copyright Criminals Remix Contest Extended; PoP dEFECT's Digital Dangers

The killer sampling documentary Copyright Criminals is nearing the final cut (view a 10-minute trailer). In the run-up to its release there’s been a remix contest utilizing samples from the documentary as well as from the musicians featured in it. The deadline for submissions has been extended to March 14.
The winning remix will be used in the final release of the documentary and 11 runners-up will be featured on a companion compilation CD. Kembrew McLeod, scholar/prankster extraordinaire, is one of Copyright Criminals’ producers – anyone working as hard as him to put the “ass” back into assistant professor is okay by me. Continue reading “Copyright Criminals Remix Contest Extended; PoP dEFECT's Digital Dangers”

DTV Spectrum Appropriated For Non-DTV Uses

You may have heard, as part of the sales pitch for transitioning broadcast television from analog to digital, about the capability of a single DTV channel to carry as many as six distinct program streams. DTV would thus be good for the consumer because it would result in an expansion of viewing choices.
Think again: meet MovieBeam. The service, developed by Disney, uses “unused portions of [DTV] signals” to deliver movies on demand to subscribers. Users pay a fee for the special set-top box used to receive and decode “rented” movies, and then pay between $2-4 per movie. Users have 24 hours to watch their chosen flick before it is automatically deleted from their box. Continue reading “DTV Spectrum Appropriated For Non-DTV Uses”

HDradio.com Launched

The HD Digital Radio Alliance has launched its own web site, HDradio.com, which is being marketed as “the new epicenter of consumers’ digital radio lifestyle.” The site’s main press contacts, Kim Holt and Michele Clarke, work for Brainerd Communicators, a PR firm that deals with “corporate & executive positioning,” “media management,” “issue & crisis management,” and “consumer & viral marketing,” among other specialties.
The site has lots of content but no real substantive information. Even so, a couple of interesting aspects can be found. There’s a section of audio samples that purport to compare traditional analog AM and FM radio to the new HD sound. The analog samples often include demonstrable interference artifacts, like bits of static and fading, as if the recordings were made near a station’s fringe-coverage area or the receivers were slightly mistuned. The HD radio clips, of course, are interference free. Continue reading “HDradio.com Launched”

FCC Seeks $302.5 Million For Fiscal Year 2007

The ’07 budget figures represent about a 4% increase over the FCC’s actual budget for fiscal year 2006 (which ends in the fall), though it is less than what was initially requested for FY ’06.
The agency’s news release notes that some of its request (just over $1 million) will be designated toward “replac[ing] Mobile Digital Direction Finding (MDDF) vehicles that are used to support public safety entities (e.g., emergency responders, police, fire departments) in the resolution of harmful interference to their communications systems.”
According to the budget proposal itself (see the document linked as “FY 2007 Performance Budget”), the FCC maintains a fleet of 76 MDDF vehicles. Continue reading “FCC Seeks $302.5 Million For Fiscal Year 2007”