FCC Enforcement Bureau Gives 2006 Overview

At its monthly meeting in January the FCC heard year-end reports and “strategic plans” from each of its primary bureaus and offices. Enforcement Bureau chief Kris Monteith reported that out of some 3,300 field investigations undertaken in 2006, the Bureau claims to have shut down “approximately” 85 pirate radio stations. If each station is counted as its own investigation, and the Bureau’s claims are assumed to be accurate, less than 3% of the Bureau’s field-time is spent on unlicensed broadcast enforcement.
Notably, this month saw the Bureau rule on some petitions for reconsideration with regard to fines issued to pirates in the last few years, which gives a better sense of the agency’s speed and effectiveness of enforcement. For example, one ruling knocked a $10,000 fine down to $600, three years after its issuance; another $10,000 claim issued in 2003 was subsequently knocked down to $1,000 in 2004, and was just further successfully appealed to $250. Continue reading “FCC Enforcement Bureau Gives 2006 Overview”

Turning Reporters Into Informants

Visit Defend the Press and learn how the U.S. Army is attempting to force a journalist into helping chill the speech of conscientiously-objecting soldiers and the coverage of their statements. The case of Lt. Ehren Watada itself stands to clarify the boundaries of what is considered acceptable public speech for those in uniform – but in no way should a journalist be hauled into court to substantiate this persecution.
I had the opportunity to interview Sarah Olson during the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis earlier this month, and was proud to be her first signatory to the coalition seeking to keep her free to report such important stories, and journalism in general free from fear of being drafted.

Calvary Satellite Network Lawsuits Near Settlement

The Phoenix Preacher blog reports that discussions between Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, CA (the founding church of the Calvary Chapel phenomenon) and Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls, ID may avoid acrimonious litigation and instead end with a partial breakup of CSN. The scuttlebutt says the Idaho-based operation will end up keeping the network’s uplink, several full-power FM stations, and an undetermined number of FM translator repeater-stations. Continue reading “Calvary Satellite Network Lawsuits Near Settlement”

Enforcement Action Database Cracks 1,000 Actions

Just caught up on the FCC’s last two months of activity. It’s been a busy winter: 274 enforcement actions for 2006 and counting.
This includes fines, or threats of fines, of $10,000 against the transmitter-hosts of both microstations in San Diego, though escalating the enforcement process up to that level of severity remains mostly outside the FCC’s standard protocol (in related news, the agency’s Inspector General is planning an audit of its regulatory fee-collection process, something not done since 1999). Continue reading “Enforcement Action Database Cracks 1,000 Actions”

The State of Florida v. Rayon Payne, pt. ∞

Late last October, Rayon Payne was tooling along the highway in a friend’s car when the po-po rolled up and pulled them over. Both men were searched, and the cops found a loaded gun on Payne’s person. Payne was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon. He wrote me shortly after it happened but I neglected to further publicize the incident – not like the man needs any more negative spin to his life’s story. Continue reading “The State of Florida v. Rayon Payne, pt. ∞”

NCMR '07 Ahoy

This week the 2007 National Conference for Media Reform kicks off in Memphis, Tennessee. More than 2,500 folks are expected to converge and discuss the future of media over what should be a grueling but fruitful weekend.
The day before the official start of the NCMR, a media policy pre-conference is taking place, hosted by the Social Science Research Council. I’ll be presenting on the dangers of digital radio. The rest of the weekend I expect to be running around, mic and portable recorder in hand, to gather soundbites of notables for special daily editions of Media Minutes.
One of these years I hope to be more participant than observer….

The Merger of AT&T and BellSouth: Thanks for (Almost) Nothing

Right before the new year, without the benefit of a public meeting or vote, the FCC approved the corporate marriage of AT&T and BellSouth. With this $85 billion deal, Ma Bell is basically just two mergers away from being fully-reconstructed.
Harold Feld of the Media Access Project has already compiled an excellent summary of reaction to the deal, though his own perspective is much more optimistic than mine. I understand that AT&T’s commitment to the preservation of network neutrality is key concession made for the deal, but their 24-month pledge to the principle is six months shorter than the initial acquiescence it made when the FCC merger negotiation-debate began months earlier. Continue reading “The Merger of AT&T and BellSouth: Thanks for (Almost) Nothing”