Balkan Busts, Bloodshed Continue

While the bombs might have stopped falling, the casualties in Yugoslavia’s war on independent media are still coming in. In fact, the military respite Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has is giving him more energy and resources to devote to rooting out any remaining opposition and consolidating his power.

It is not a war of words, either. Central to the conflict is radio station B92, a 200-watt free radio station in the capital city of Belgrade. After ten years on the air (and two busts during that time), a third – and possibly final – one happened shortly before NATO bombs began to fall on Serbia and Kosovo.

The Yugoslav central government raided Radio B92, seizing its equipment and briefly detaining its chief operators. After maintaining firm control over the hardware, authorities apparently upgraded it, assembled a new “management team,” and opened up a “new” Radio B92 a few days after the raid – with a signal five times stronger than the original B92 ever put out. Read More

Risks and Rewards

It seems there’s a bit of confusion over the terms “pirate” and “free” when applied to radio. Some associate piracy with breaking the law, while “free radio” seems to be thought of as some sort of quasi-legal community operation.

The two terms, in the eyes of the law, are one and the same. “Pirate” or “free” radio stations both have one thing in common – they both broadcast without an FCC license, and therefore are illegal operations.

Being a radio “pirate” used to be a compliment, until the movement toward legalization of low-power radio stations began in the United States – then, as more moderate activists joined the scene, the term “pirate” was phased out as being politically incorrect.

Leave the United States, though, and most of the unlicensed stations operating out there will still refer to themselves as “pirates,” and they’re proud of the moniker. Read More

The Yugoslav Crackdown on Free Radio

All good things must come to an end, and it appears that’s the case with Yugoslavia’s B92. The Belgrade broadcasters had been an unlicensed, full-service community radio station in every sense of the word.

When the NATO air campaign began, B92’s importance changed significantly. Only hours before the first bombs fell, Yugoslav authorities confiscated B92’s transmitter and arrested and detained its founder for about eight hours.

The station wasn’t intimidated, though: it became a coveted source of information to the rest of the world from inside a country under political siege. Internet and satellite uplinks from B92 staffers continued – until Friday. Read More

1998=1984?

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: Read More

Working the System

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. Read More