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

LPFM Legislation Redux; Taking Initiative at the State Level

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) plans to reintroduce a bill (which died of inaction last session) that would expand the FCC’s LPFM service back out to its original parameters as defined in 2000. She’s released a statement touting the initiative as a plus for media diversity (though she’s off by a week on LPFM’s fifth birthday, but that’s just nitpicking).

However, the more exciting legislative action seems to be taking place at the state level. Although state broadcast lobbies in Florida and New Jersey are criminalizing unlicensed broadcasting, there is a new push afoot in another state (which will remain nameless so as to keep the lobbyists at bay for as long as possible) to enact legislation that would put control of broadcast radio stations whose signals do not cross a state line under the control of that state’s regulator of public utilities. Read More

Florida War on Pirates: Mobilizing the Troops

On Tuesday “more than 50 radio managers and owners gathered…at a meeting of the Florida Sheriffs Association at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood,” according to the Miami Herald. “Their goal: To plot strategy on taking small-time, illegal operators off the air.”

The Broward County Sheriff’s office claims to have shut down “a dozen stations in the past 18 months,” while an estimated three dozen remain on the air in south Florida. “It takes ruthless, local law enforcement tactics,” said Sheriff’s Captain Larry DeFuria. At least two attorneys from the Florida Association of Broadcasters were also present at the meeting, undoubtedly for purposes of coaching the best ways to apply the smackdown. Read More