Archive | July, 2003

Live from PDX

I’m out of town this week, in lovely Portland, OR, after a 2.5 day trip on AMTRAK’s “Empire Builder” train.

I’ll be attending the Portland Zine Symposium this weekend, where I’m also sharing a table with Aj “Low Hug” Michel. Since I won’t have regular Internet access, posts will be light this week, and probably won’t include much media news, since you’ll probably hear about it before me. I’ll try to give a little space to PDX independent media, of which there’s a lot. But I am on vacation, which should mean a little less mediageekery than usual, except for the zine symposium.

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Congressionally Mandated Report on Low-Power FM Says It’s OK, No Interference (Duh)

It only took a Freedom of Information Act request and the subtle threat of filing suit to bring it to light, but the FCC finally released the Mitre report on low-power FM interference issues. The report was mandated by Congress as part of the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 2000 which gutted the rollout of LPFM by requiring stations to obey the same spacing on the dial as full-power stations, thereby eliminating the potential for new LPFM stations in many of the nation’s largest urban areas.

Don Schellhardt of the Amherst Alliance spearheaded the movement to place pressure on the FCC to finally release the report (more than two years late), and he’s mobilizing people to press Congress into listening to the results: LPFM stations can be placed much closer to full-power stations than currently allowed without any substantial interference problems.

I interviewed Don on last Friday’s mediageek radio show, where he gives more details of the report, how it finally got released, and what action we can take to try and revitalize LPFM. You can listen to the show on-line:

  • Broadcast quality mp3 (64 kbps – 13 MB)
  • Low -bandwidth mp3 (16 kbps – 4 MB)
  • Broadcast quality Ogg Vorbis (10 MB)about ogg vorbis
  • For more on the Mitre Report, John Anderson at DIYmedia has a good write up with extensive links, including links to the full report.

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    Good News? Justice Dept. Investigating Crooked… er, CLEAR Channel

    Per the Associated Press:

    The Justice Department (news – web sites) is investigating Clear Channel, the nation’s largest radio owner, amid complaints about consolidation and the use of coercive tactics by the company, officials said Friday.

    R. Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general for antitrust, told a House subcommittee that there is an investigation into Clear Channel. Officials would not disclose any details about the nature of the probe.

    Pate said in a hearing Thursday that the Justice Department had interviewed people that Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., had referred to the agency after they complained of coercive tactics. …

    Among the complaints were allegations that Clear Channel punished artists who didn’t use the company’s concert promotion arm by denying, or threatening to deny, radio airplay for their songs, he said.

    When Berman complained during the hearing Thursday that he hadn’t heard back from the Justice Department about his complaints, Pate replied that the department had two ongoing investigations into Clear Channel. But he would not elaborate.

    Yeah, but is there the political will within the executive branch to truly go after another bastion of Conservative Republican Bushie cronies? Stranger things have happened.

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    Mark your calendar and dust off your transmitter: Oct. 17 Is A Day of Mass Electronic Civil Disobedience

    I just received a missive from Free Radio Berkeley’s Stephen Dunifer calling on us to seize the airwaves on Media Democracy Day, October 17. Rather than working through representatives and intermediaries, Dunifer argues that it’s time to talk back directly through direct action on the airwaves. And I couldn’t agree more.

    Here’s the full text:

    You go to the demonstrations, write letters and email to Congress; and yet, you feel as if your voice is not being heard. What if there was a way for your voice, and the voices of your compatriots, to actually be heard? There is – it is called micropower broadcasting or free radio.

    Micropower broadcasting began as a means to empower the residents of a housing project in Springfield, Illinois in the late 1980’s. By creating a low power FM broadcast station, this community established its own voice and a direct means to fight against police brutality and repression. Unlicensed and unsanctioned by the government, Human Rights Radio, as it is now known, continues to broadcast to this very day.

    Since then, micropower broadcasting has grown into a national movement of electronic civil disobedience. Based on the principles of Free Speech and Direct Action, micropower broadcasting seeks to reclaim the electronic commons of the airwaves – a public resource and trust stolen by the corporate broadcasters, aided and abetted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other appendages of the US Government.

    Continuing in the rich tradition of the struggle to speak freely and be heard, micropower broadcasting has traded the historic soapbox for the FM broadcast transmitter. Advances in technology and design have allowed for the creation of FM transmitters at a very low cost in comparison to standard, commercial broadcasting equipment. An entire FM broadcast station covering a radius of 5-12 miles can be assembled for $1000 or less. …

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    Global Community Radio Under Seige

    This is very disturbing news that I heard rumors about yesterday and have had confirmed today. Radio for Peace Int’l, a global non-profit shortwave radio station located in Costa Rica, has been locked down by armed guards working for the University of Peace, which is the station’s landlord. The University intends to evict the station in the next two weeks.

    What’s most absurd about this situation is that the University of Peace was created by the United Nations for the very purpose of studying and furthering global peace, a goal that RFPI has always intended to further. But chaining up the station and surrounding it with armed guards is far from a peaceful action.

    Here are details from an RFPI press release:

    For Immediate Release

    For More Information contact:

    RFPI at email: info@rfpi.org

    James Latham, CEO, RFPI: 011 (506) 249-1821

    Naomi Fowler, Program Director, RFPI: 011 (506) 249-1821

    Emily Morales, Operations, RFPI: 011 (506) 249-1821

    US Contact: Jean Parker, Board of Directors: (303) 355-9935

    On Monday, July 21, 2003, a University for Peace representative delivered
    an eviction notice to Radio For Peace International (RFPI), a shortwave
    radio station based since 1985 by mutual agreement on the University
    campus in El Rodeo, Costa Rica. The Radio station’s access gate was locked
    with chains and patrolled by armed guards employed by the University for
    Peace, and two weeks were given to evacuate the facility.

    Radio For Peace employees made a plea to the armed guards to allow them to
    leave the locked premises on Monday night, although some have not left the
    premises since the eviction notice.

    According to James Latham, Chief Executive Officer of Radio for Peace
    International, the extreme, unexplained, and legally questionable decision
    to evict RFPI endangers the livelihood of the station’s employees, as well
    as the voice of peace on international airwaves. “This is more than an
    eviction, this is about the right to free speech,” says Latham. “What is
    most shocking and sad is that this action comes from an international
    peace organization.”

    University for Peace co-founder and former Costa Rican President Rodrigo
    Carazo Odio invited RFPI in 1985 to build and manage its own office and
    studios on the university’s Costa Rica campus, from which RFPI has been
    transmitting messages of peace and hope to the planet since 1987. RFPI is
    the only shortwave radio station dedicated to peace and social justice in
    the Western Hemisphere is the only one that transmits daily United Nations
    programming.

    Latham says that Monday’s eviction notice represents poor judgment on
    behalf of the new administration at the University for Peace, a United
    Nations mandated university established in 1980. “RFPI has always shown
    goodwill towards the University for Peace. Our shared goals in the
    elimination of war is what brought our two organizations together and
    there is much work still to be done. Instead of focusing on how to
    eliminate a fellow peace organization, we need to channel our energy
    toward eliminating war, poverty and hunger.”

    Concerned parties are advised to write UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in
    support of the radio station at: annan@un.org or sg@un.org, and/or to
    leave a message of concern with the Public Inquiries office at
    212.963.4475.

    Press events and solidarity actions are currently being planned and
    notifications will be sent out shortly.

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