Florida: Pirate Radio Attracts Bounty Hunters

Meet Signal Finder – a Florida company founded by engineers with experience at Clear Channel and Motorola. For an hourly fee it tracks pirate stations and provides detailed reports on their signal quality, strength, and interference potential (relative to the client). It’s an FCC enforcement action wrapped with a bow.
Key bit: “The commission has been quiet about Signal Finder’s efforts to this point, [Signal Finder vice president Steven] Grey said. ‘One FCC enforcement officer told me that having us pinpoint a pirate could expedite the process. However, they still need to do their complete investigation. That leaves our clients the option of taking action against unlicensed broadcasters in civil court,’ he said.” Continue reading “Florida: Pirate Radio Attracts Bounty Hunters”

Florida Moves to Criminalize Pirate Radio; Jammers Hit Clear Channel?

SB 2714 has been introduced in the Florida State Senate. This legislation would allow state authorities loose on the hunt for pirate stations; the act itself would be treated as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Presently it is a crime in Florida to intentionally interfere with radio signals – a misdemeanor.
SB 2714 cleared the Senate’s Committee on Communication and Public Utilities last month on a 7-1 vote and awaits similar endorsement by the Criminal Justice Committee. A companion bill in the state House has already been endorsed by its Committees on Business Regulation (28-8) and Appropriations (37-5). Continue reading “Florida Moves to Criminalize Pirate Radio; Jammers Hit Clear Channel?”

KFAR/Oklahoma City FCC Update

Reports from someone with Knoxville’s First Amendment Radio brings updated info on its situation: the “nastygram” was found around noon Thursday. Then for about an hour station volunteers played hide-and-seek with agents Eric Rice and Rickey Davis from the Atlanta District Field Office (photos available at the station’s web site). KFAR shut down and the agents went away.
First Amendment Radio stayed silent until 4pm Saturday when broadcasts resumed with a skeleton operation its volunteers are willing to risk if the FCC moves in the direction of a raid.
KFAR’s had at least one contact with the FCC prior to this one. The station recently filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the agency (objective unknown) and as of now is asking listeners to call, e-mail or write the agents in Atlanta asking them to cool it. Continue reading “KFAR/Oklahoma City FCC Update”

Scene Reports: Washington, Texas, Vermont

Two reports from Free Radio Olympia confirm a male/female team of agents from the FCC’s Seattle office were first caught snooping on the property around 3:30 yesterday afternoon. Confronted by someone, the agents finally identified themselves and were repeatedly denied entry to inspect the station.
After more than 20 minutes of getting nowhere the agents retreated to their “mini-van/suv type” vehicle, where reportedly “the female fcc agent called into the studio with a cell phone.” Don’t know if the call was broadcast, or if anything was taped, but the FCC went away after that. Continue reading “Scene Reports: Washington, Texas, Vermont”

Fun in Clear Channel Country

In about two and a half weeks, the FCC’s Localism Task Force will set up shop in San Antonio, Texas for a public hearing. This is the second one; the first happened in October in Charlotte, North Carolina. That produced a 153-page transcript, if you’re interested in catching up on the pontification.
I still don’t quite see the point of this effort, as the damage done to localism in the media (however you want to define it) from industry consolidation is already done, and is just getting worse as time goes on. At least those that get to speak to some FCC officials will feel momentarily important, as said officials momentarily act like they care. Change/progress? Not likely (however you want to define it).
That being said, the image at right arrived in the inbox this week courtesy of “RPMRADIO,” a shadowy entity that claims to operate a network of unlicensed microradio stations in San Antonio, also the home of Clear Channel. Photoshopped or not, the sentiment’s dead-on. Task force public hearings are only one venue through which the public may be heard.
(click on image to see a larger jpeg)

Clear Channel/KJR Re-Jammed in Seattle

Last September, when the National Association of Broadcasters descended on Seattle for their annual radio convention, they were met by a swarm of microradio stations, who dubbed themselves the “mosquito fleet.”
During the convention the stations coordinated a simulcast spoof of local Clear Channel classic hits outlet KJR-FM, which ran on spots across Seattle’s FM dial for the better part of a day. The on-air culture jam, produced by Negativland, ripped into KJR and Clear Channel for billing the station as playing the “SuperHits 60s and 70s,” yet sneaking in a significant number of 80’s tunes. It was a sideswipe at Clear Channel and the NAB’s focus on broadcasting for a demographic and the bottom line. Continue reading “Clear Channel/KJR Re-Jammed in Seattle”

Florida Broadcasters Change Tactics Against Pirates

An article in the business section of Sunday’s Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper highlights the “pirate problem” in southern Florida and features lots of quotes from irate broadcast industry-types. My favorite comes from David Ross, Clear Channel’s regional vice president for its 27 south Florida broadcast properties:
“They’re destroying the ability of listeners to hear what they choose and our ability to serve advertisers. It’s a form of squatting. They don’t pay any taxes, they’re breaking the law, they don’t need to meet any licensing requirements and they affect all of us, from the biggest to the smallest operator.” While there is a huge mass of pirate activity in Florida, making that state the most active by far, one gets the sense Ross would say the same thing in any situation where there’s “pirates.” Continue reading “Florida Broadcasters Change Tactics Against Pirates”

Clear Channel Watch: Ramping Up D.C. Presence, Pressure

This should come as little surprise after Clear Channel Chairman/CEO Lowry Mays’ recent ceremonial grilling in front of a Senate panel.
Clear Channel’s D.C. lobbying arm grows from one to three as chief corporate glad-hander Andrew Levin entices two more away from the Hill. The expansion buys Clear Channel valuable access to key members of Congress, which should help smooth over the company’s image problems and increase the company’s influence on media lawmaking.
Robert Fisher comes straight from Arizona Senator John McCain’s backyard, having worked on McCain’s most recent re-election campaign in 1998. That earned him a place on McCain’s D.C. staff as the Senator’s media issues adviser. With Clear Channel’s purchase of Fisher, the company has all but installed a direct hotline to McCain’s ear on telecommunications policymaking. It’s almost as good as buying McCain himself. Continue reading “Clear Channel Watch: Ramping Up D.C. Presence, Pressure”

Clear Channel Bashing Made Easy

Look no further than a new addition to the company’s own web site – a thinly-veiled whitewashing of the ol’ corporate image called “Clear Channel Cares.”
According to the site, Clear Channel is launching a publicity campaign to promote just how it contributes to the communities it does business in. The campaign is running on the company’s radio stations and outdoor billboards (Clear Channel is the largest single owner of radio stations and billboards in America).
“Clear Channel Cares” is pathetic beyond description. Honest to God, I almost puked after downloading their national radio spot. The site also features “localized audio” – spots providing examples of Clear Channel’s community spirit in a whopping nine markets. For a 1,200+ station conglomerate, you think they could’ve tried a bit harder. Continue reading “Clear Channel Bashing Made Easy”