Been a bit hectic between the last update and this one; this scattershot-ness will likely continue for the next month or so. The site itself still needs some work before it’s fully comfortable in its new home, so if you experience a hiccup in connectivity it’s just me f*cking around trying to set things right.
There have been several new reports of more pressure from the Dutch authorities on pirate stations in the Netherlands. For nearly a year Agentschap Telecom (the Dutch version of the FCC) has run “Project Etherflits,” a nationwide sweep designed to clear the band of extraneous signals so the government can finalize its sale of the broadcast spectrum to the highest bidder. The Zerobase Radio Frequency Policy, as currently written, does not contain provisions for community radio stations – only public and commercial outlets are to share the air.
The government concluded the auction of radio frequencies last May but clearing the dial of pirates, especially in the FM band, has not been easy. In recent years the Netherlands has been home to hundreds of unlicensed stations that enjoyed massive audiences as well as regular visits/fines/raids. Even in the face of Etherflits a few pirates have managed to stay on the air, but most have succumbed to the enforcement onslaught.
Three of the last holdouts are free radio stations in Amsterdam: Radio 100, Radio Patapoe, and Radio de Vrije Keyser. All of the stations have bounced back from raids during their years on the air, but this time the government appears to be serious about silencing them. Last May, Radio 100 took the first blow when the licensee who bought their frequency fired up its transmitter. Radio de Vrije Keyser, at last report, was still broadcasting sporadically, although afflicted by the same problem.
In early February the mayor of Amsterdam gave his police the order to cooperate with AT agents in raids on the three stations. On the 9th they suited up in riot gear and moved on Radio Patapoe, but in Keystone cop-like fashion could not find the station’s transmitter and gave up. Public backlash against the forced reorganization of radio now has the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs reviewing the Zerobase Policy with an eye on adding ways to offer licenses to community stations run on the free radio model.
Demonstration/festivals are helping keep the public pressure up: there was a large weekend convergence last June and the and another took place last Friday. Radio Patapoe appears to be the lone station left standing at the moment in Amsterdam – and it can use all the help it can get, including e-mails of support which it is collecting and presenting to local/federal authorities.
Miscellany #1: Berkeley Liberation Radio joints the list of microradio stations with community support now on record. On February 17 the Berkeley City Council approved aresolution of endorsement. Its wording is closely aligned to the one passed by the city of San Francisco and includes the clause advocating non-cooperation on the part of local police in any FCC enforcement action. Didn’t help much for SF Liberation Radio, but a symbolic victory is better than nothing, especially if the conflict ever goes to court. Its passage was smooth (6-0, with three council members abstaining).
Miscellany #2: On February 20 the FCC finally signed off on the MITRE report and officially recommended Congress revisit the LPFM issue. The obvious hope is that legislation will be passed that will undo many of the restrictive provisions of the “Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act,” but as of yet nobody’s talking about attacking the clause that bans unlicensed broadcasters from participation.
It is good to see the media reform movement is taking the expansion of LPFM seriously, but in the current political climate (and it being an election year) I’m hard-pressed to get excited. Especially when it’s been clear since November that this would happen, and the impetus is entirely political. Should be fun to watch the fireworks (if any). Meanwhile, the licensee-free route remains your most reliable way of actually getting on the air…
Miscellany #3: the Schnazz is fresh again. And listeners to Freak Radio Santa Cruz may want to catch V-Man’s Rockin’ the Boat show tonight, where the scheduled topic is microradio and LPFM. I and a representative of the Prometheus Radio Project will be your talking heads for the evening.