FRB is Back

Stephen Dunifer, founder of Free Radio Berkeley (FRB), has often been touted as a catalyst to the development of the U.S. microradio movement, and rightly so. He has been through a long and vigorous battle in the courts with the federal government over his 50-watt operation.

As his activism continued, the press finally got wind – hence the nationwide acclaim. Dunifer’s no stranger to working the press. Taken off the air after a setback in his case, Dunifer and FRB has been silent for nearly nine months now. Even so, it really came as no surprise when the following news release showed up today: 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

Body Blows

It hasn’t been a good few weeks for microradio.

During the first days of June, the head of the FCC’s Compliance and Information Bureau, Richard Lee, made numerous postings to various free radio discussion areas on the Internet claiming that his department had a done a state-by-state audit of all free radio stations in operation. According to Mr. Lee, the number of stations operating nationwide is less than 200. Lee also said that the stations identified will be dealt with. His messages were met with curious silence.

In mid-month, apparently out of the blue, the California federal judge that granted Free Radio Berkeley a temporary injunction keeping the FCC at bay reversed her decision. Judge Claudia Wilken said that Free Radio Berkeley’s argument – that the FCC’s issuance and allocation of station licenses restricted free speech rights – didn’t hold water because FRB never attempted to get its own license. The FRB folks have promised to appeal. Read More