FCC Raids radio free brattleboro

An early-morning raid today backed by Federal Marshals has rfb off the air. The FCC had secured a warrant for arrest of the transmitter and associated gear “from a Burlington magistrate,” which means it did not come from the Brattleboro-based judge hearing the station’s case. Surprisingly, they actually left some gear behind (not much, but it wasn’t a complete scouring).

This is a highly unusual move as the FCC has typically let any court proceedings play out before attempting another enforcement tack. In fact, the station’s reaction to the raid notes that it had dropped its own attempt to secure an injunction against the FCC because of assurances that the agency would keep the dispute in the realm of the courts. Apparently a lack of patience caused the agency to renege. Read More

FCC Seeks Summary Judgment in radio free brattleboro Case

According to this article in the Brattleboro Reformer, the FCC spent the last 15 months ignoring judge J. Garvan Murtha’s concerns about the lack of local access to the airwaves. That’s why he denied the agency’s request for a temporary injunction against rfb in the first place.

Instead, the best assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Drescher can come up with, apparently, is “we don’t give out licenses to 10-watt stations, therefore radio free brattleboro must not broadcast.” Which is not exactly true: the FCC’s LPFM service contains a provision for so-called “LP-10” stations that would broadcast with 10 watts or less, but it has never solicited applications for LP-10 stations. How can a station acquire a license the FCC maintains on its books but refuses to issue? Read More

FCC Stymied in Brattleboro Court

A hearing was held today on the FCC’s motion for an injunction to silence radio free brattleboro.

The FCC argued that broadcasting without a license is against the law. radio free brattleboro’s attorneys pointed to the incredible amount of local support and the fact that (as of now) the FCC offers no licenses to FM radio stations of 10 watts or less.

Judge J. Garvan Murtha was apparently influenced by the strong community support for and logic behind the station’s concerns. He denied the FCC’s motion for an injunction and – similar to the FCC v. (Stephen) Dunifer case of the mid-90s – asked both sides for further briefs. Those are due in 45 days. Read More

radio free brattleboro Wins Symbolic Community Endorsement; Gilligan Goes LPFM

Voters in Brattleboro, VT went to the polls on March 2 and by a margin of nearly two to one voted to support their microradio station in its struggle for “official legitimacy.”

For what it’s worth, the local paper ended up endorsing the station, too. The court activity is still at the tentative stage, each side having filed papers asking a federal judge to shut the other up. Read More

Dueling Filings and Journalistic Kudos

The FCC filed a civil suit Tuesday seeking an injunction against radio free brattleboro; today the station filed a counterclaim, challenging FCC licensing authority on several constitutional grounds.

The (hopefully) good news of this move is that the FCC forego the route of the station raid, preferring instead to exert a more diplomatic form of muscle. It could still try to fine someone, but it sounds like the heavy community support may be paying off in keeping the goons away. You never quite know with them wily FCC types…rfb’s referendum for local support goes down March 2. Read More