Last week, the FCC officially proposed making low-power FM stations a legal part of the radio dial. The statement in itself doesn’t give too many details as to what this broadcast service will look like, except in the most general of forms. When the official text becomes available, expect notice here.
An interesting little email has cropped up among microradio activists recently.
It stems from the recent bust and arrest of the operators of Black Cat Radio in Memphis, TN. The station ops weren’t arrested for the actual act of unlicensed broadcasting, but rather for jacking into the University of Memphis‘ electrical system to to power their transmitter as they broadcast from a parking garage on campus.
The email allegedly came from the U.S. Department of Justice, and it’s reproduced in its entirety below:
The following is a report from scouts at the National Lawyer’s Guild’s Committee on Democratic Communications; they went to Washington recently to gauge support for a low power radio legalization effort.
Call To Action
We now have an historic opportunity (ok, its a cheap political phrase) to influence communications policy in the U.S. The window of opportunity is NOW! Believe me– I have talked with a number of people in D.C.– we need to BOMBARD the FCC RIGHT NOW with a massive show of support. We need to show them that the unlicensed micros are serious about wanting a legalized system and we need to show that it has Congressional support.
There are many that say it’s no use to try to change something from the inside. Maybe it’s because they’re not sure how. Once again, legal experts in the microradio movement have a bright idea for tactics – use the FCC’s regulatory system as a tool! Written by Peter Franck, a member of the legal team defending Stephen Dunifer and Free Radio Berkeley.
This is a report, a proposal, and poses questions to the micro community. Please share this with groups that are not on line.
In the Dunifer case, Dunifer’s primary defense against the U. S. government’s request for a court injunction to stop him from broadcasting was that FCC Regulations barring low-power stations from getting a license were unconstitutional. The Court ruled that Dunifer did not have “standing” to raise this defense because he had not applied and asked for a waiver of the licensing provisions. In other words, the Court refused to consider the constitutionality of the regulations because Dunifer had not asked the FCC to waive those requirements which seem to make it impossible for a low-power broadcaster to get a license to broadcast lawfully. (The same Judge, early in the case, had expressed great doubt about the constitutionality of the FCC regulations. In this ruling she was refusing to consider the issue.) While we think the Judge’s reasoning is terribly wrong, the fact is that the FCC has been filing this Judge’s decision in other Courts around the country with some success.
There’s a lot of good ideas expressed here by Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, founder of Black Liberation Radio (Tennessee). The list of options is expanding, including the possible addition of acts of “Electronic Civil Disobedience.”
A CALL FOR A DIRECT ACTION CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE FCC AND THE NAB
There is no more current pressing matter than to deter the FCC and its master, the National Association of Broadcasters, along by various political agencies egged on by them, from harassing existing free radio stations in North America. These raids have included the especially punitive raid on Black Liberation Radio in Decatur, Illinois where the children of the station operators have been seized and the operators charged with bogus criminal charges to make them stop broadcasting. It also includes the recent raids of L. D. Brewer’s “Party Pirate 102 FM” and the criminal indictment and conviction of Lonnie Kobres in Florida. In all, over 162 stations have been harassed and shut down (even if only temporarily) over the last 18 months according to the FCC.