CSN Exposé Finally Published

The long-awaited L.A. Times piece on the problems at the Calvary Satellite Network was published today. It doesn’t include much more than we already knew, save for a few interesting factoids:
1. The CSN network is valued at $250 million, most of that in the form of the licenses for the 450+ full-power FM and translator stations it owns.
2. Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith poured some $13 million into network construction, and Chuck’s son, Jeff, siphoned money from his dad’s radio ministry to finance CSN in troubled times. Continue reading “CSN Exposé Finally Published”

Clear Channel Buyout Update

The wheels are well in motion to take Clear Channel private. Shareholders will vote on the deal March 21. They’re being offered $37.60 for each share of stock they own, which is about a dollar and small change more than it’s currently trading for, and near the 52-week high, though just 41% of what CCU stock was worth back in its heyday, 1999.
Clear Channel’s executives are obviously urging all shareholders to approve the buyout (they call it a “merger”), as it represents the best option to “maximize shareholder value” given “extensive review of available strategic alternatives, taking into careful account the continued challenges in the broadcasting sector and…recent growth in the domestic outdoor [advertising] business, as well as future growth opportunities.” Continue reading “Clear Channel Buyout Update”

Public Interest Obligations for Digital Radio?

When TV broadcasters were given access to new spectrum in order to establish digital channels late in the last decade, the grants were contingent on broadcasters using the spectrum-windfall in ways that served the public interest. This might include things like opening up a slice of each DTV channel to public access, or obligating DTV stations to produce “public-interest” programming with news, educational, or other civic-minded value.
The problem is that while the FCC’s been talking about public-interest obligations for DTV broadcasters for 12 years now, it hasn’t adopted any explicit rule defining what those obligations are, and how stations must comply with them. Meanwhile, DTV stations are going on the air and the spectrum they use – touted as having the capacity to offer as many as six different channels – is being utilized however broadcasters see fit, and this often has nothing to do with providing more free over-the-air content. Continue reading “Public Interest Obligations for Digital Radio?”

FCC 2008 Proposed Budget: No Surprises

From the enforcement perspective, the Enforcement Bureau’s proposed 2008 outlay comes to $46.4 million – this is an increase of just under $2 million from FY 2006-07. The Enforcement Bureau constitutes the second-largest FCC bureau/office in terms of budget size (second only to the Office of Managing Director).
While the number of full-time equivalent employees in Enforcement stays constant through the period, some shuffling within the ranks does occur; FTEs devoted to the goals of “spectrum” and “media” will increase, while those devoted to “public safety/homeland security” will decrease. Continue reading “FCC 2008 Proposed Budget: No Surprises”

FCC Creates Another LPFM Loophole, Courts to Consider a Third

Right at about the same time the FCC granted special temporary authority to a pirate station in Nevada to operate without a license, the agency told a group of irate listeners in Texas that they, too, could have a station if they wanted to.
How? Some 263 of them wrote letters to the FCC requesting it deny the transfer of KTPB-FM’s license from a community college to the Educational Media Foundation. The well-known godcaster will flip the station’s format from classical to one of its “alternative” offerings.
Seemingly impressed by the outpouring of support for classical music, thought the FCC denied the listeners’ objections to the license transfer it entertained the option of them applying for an LPFM station license in order to “fill any programming void left by the sale of the station to EMF and change in format that EMF may make.” Continue reading “FCC Creates Another LPFM Loophole, Courts to Consider a Third”

New Licensing Loophole Involves Influential Senator

“Radio Goldfield,” a pirate station run by seasoned citizen Rod Moses out of his trailer in Goldfield, Nevada (population 440) has received special temporary authority from the FCC to operate a 100-watt FM outlet without an official license until such time as the FCC opens another LPFM filing window.
How did he do it? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s ringing endorsement, in correspondence to the agency, probably sealed the deal: Continue reading “New Licensing Loophole Involves Influential Senator”

Translator Licensees Spike, Get Cited

The FCC has released year-end broadcast station totals. Of the 17,968 licensed radio stations in the nation, 4,131 (23%) are translator stations. FM translators may outnumber the number of AM stations by the end of this year; if the NAB’s proposal to give away translators to AM stations gains traction, the number of translators could quintuple.
Interestingly, the year-to-year totals of translators don’t seem to reflect the flood of new translators that have gone on the air since 2003. A recent slew of Notices of Apparent Liability released by the FCC for failure to timely renew station licenses somewhat does. Stations have been threatened with fines ranging between $1,500 and $8,500 for the infraction, with penalties inflated for those stations that technically operated without a license when their present one expired. In every case, the FCC has renewed each station’s license without further question.

Army Surrenders Reporter's Subpoena

Though the court-marital of Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada is still slated to go down next week, independent journalist Sarah Olson will not be called upon to testify. Two charges of “conduct unbecoming an officer,” stemming from anti-war statements Lt. Watada made to Olson that she subsequently published, have been dropped. Watada stipulates to his public utterances being true, which means the Army may still use them against him in retaliation for speaking out against the occupation of Iraq. Continue reading “Army Surrenders Reporter's Subpoena”