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

FCC Developments on Multiple Fronts

First the enforcement tidbits. Global Radio, the company which operated several unlicensed FM transmitters at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium during the 2003 Super Bowl, has had its $12,000 fine reduced to $10,800. Global was caught broadcasting on six frequencies during the game when it only had authorization to use two (although the FCC initially prosecuted it for running three of the four pirate stations).

The company angled for a cancellation of its fine based on a couple of interesting arguments. The first was that Global went pirate on extra channels “to experiment with the boundaries of Part 15” broadcasting. This makes little sense as FCC staff on hand for the game collected ample evidence that the unlicensed transmitters were indeed way over Part 15 power levels (which couldn’t have covered the entire stadium). The second argument was more traditional: a $12,000 fine would put the company in serious financial straits. Unfortunately, Global neglected to provide the requisite three years of tax returns to back up a claim of inability to pay the penalty. Read More

More Busts Reported

In the last week or so two more pirate stations in New Jersey and Illinois have been silenced. These are unusual cases. According to the Associated Press the NJ station, “El Sol 95.3,” was raided on Wednesday. It was run “by a group calling itself the Moors. The group has claimed U.S. laws do not apply to it because its members are indigenous Americans who have lived on the continent since the beginning of time….A man who answered the door said the station was authorized under the ‘Great Seal’ and offered a homemade document signed by ‘Queen Ali.'” Read More