Scene Report: Florida

Amateurs on the offensive: The American Radio Relay League has formally petitioned the FCC to nullify Florida’s anti-pirate law passed last year. Not because hams like pirates, but because they’re afraid the law’s so broadly written that any amateur who inadvertently interferes could be branded a criminal. ARRL’s 10-page Request for Declaratory Ruling is an excellent encapsulation of the legislative and judicial history for why laws like Florida’s shouldn’t be on the books.

Meanwhile, some clenching reporter from a Fort Myers TV station put together an “exposé” of a local hip-hop pirate station using indecency as a hook, complete with bleeped clips and the shocked reaction of a (white) mother’s face after she tuning in for the cameras. The reporter, with help from a local commercial radio station worried about the pirate’s effect on its listenership, went so far as to track down the transmission location. It also calls use of the internet as STL a growing trend.

Religious Broadcasting As Franchise Operation

While the proliferation of FM translator stations by religious broadcast groups arguably constitutes spectrum abuse, it’s just one perspective on a larger problem. Religious broadcasters are not only snapping up translator channels on which real community LPFM stations might have been sited, they’re also engaged in LPFM broadcasting.

A recent SF Chronicle story illustrates how Calvary Chapel organizes LPFM station affiliate growth:

This month, the Calvary Chapel Radio Ministry of Costa Mesa in Orange County hosted 170 mostly Christian low-power broadcasters, offering them operational tips as well as up to “16 hours per day, seven days a week” of programming beamed in via satellite, according to its Web site. Read More

Moneychangers In the Temple

REC Networks makes some remarkable math: the entity doing business as translator-mongers Edgewater Broadcasting and Radio Assist Ministries is cleaning up on the FM dial. Combined, Edgewater/RAM currently hold 1,026 construction permits for translator stations. This is of more than 4,200 license applications filed (~2,300 applications still pending).

Of these, REC then lists (in an e-mail) 83 sales or transfers of Edgewater/RAM construction permits – the recipients of whom just happen to be other translator-mongers, like the American Family Association and Calvary Chapel Church, Inc.

Three multi-translator transactions involved Edgewater/RAM handing over 26 construction permits in Florida to “Reach Communications (Calvary Chapel Church, Inc.)” for $326,500. The total revenue generated by the 83 transactions is just over $800,000. Read More

Florida Media Complains: “Didn’t We Outlaw Them?”

Two recent articles profile the appearance of new pirate stations in the state. One is relatively straightforward, the other reads like a Puritan beef. The latter station profiled, Dream Team Radio, covers multiple cities with two frequencies. It also has turned the “safe harbor” concept on its head – broadcasting “N-words and F-bombs” during the day and going to “love songs generally free of raunch” overnight.

When the media starts bitching the FCC (and, in the state of Florida, licensed broadcasters and law enforcement) are likely to take notice and make some examples of somebody. Perhaps that somebody will be Doug Brewer, formerly of Tampa’s Party Pirate fame, who closes out the first article with a somewhat damning cameo: Read More