Archive | March, 2005

Prometheus Calls on Translator Trafficking Bluff

As promised, attorney Harold Feld, representing Prometheus et al, has filed his opposition Download file“>(download pdf) to Edgewater et al’s motion to dismiss Prometheus’ petition to freeze translator applications (follow that?).

Prometheus calls Edgewater’s bluff:

Ministries has failed to produce any evidence to rebut the prima
facie case, based on publically available documents, that the principles of “Ministries” have engaged in an illegal scheme to traffic in Commission licenses in violation of Section 309(j)(3)(C) and Section 309(j)(4)(E) of the Communications Act and longstanding Commission policy. …

Applicants Parrish, Williamson and Atkins do not give more than general denials to the facts stated in the Petition and supported by public documents.

Feld goes on to claim that Edgewater’s motion to deny rests primarily on flimsy procedural claims:

Caught with their hands in the public cookie jar, “Ministries” has attempted to shift ground and seek dismissal on procedural grounds. The thrust of “Ministries” Motion is that the Petition constitutes an untimely Petition to Deny the initial applications of Parrish, Williamson and Atkins in their various corporate guises. This misunderstands the nature of Petitioner’s filing.

On Edgewater et al’s claim that Gloria Tristani, Manager of UCC Office of Communications, improperly contacted current FCC Commissioners about the issue, Prometheus says, essentially, that Edgewater doesn’t understand the rules:

Furthermore, the accusation that former Commissioner Gloria Tristani violated the ex parte rules is simply inaccurate and represents a misunderstanding of the procedural posture of the case and of the ex parte rules.

This is the most excitement the world of FM translator stations has seen in years. But I don’t mean to minimize the real importance of this case. The abuse of translator stations to create huge networks of low-power radio clones where true community LPFM stations could go is a travesty. That World Radio Link can then profit from the venture is a true looting of public coffers.

I hope that it’s clear to the FCC that they can’t ignore this situation.

To hear more from Harold Feld on the translator trafficking scandal, listen to this Friday’s radioshow (5:30 PM, WEFT 90.1 FM, Champaign, IL), or listen to it on-line at the radioshow page, starting next Monday.

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Gov’t Propaganda on Central Illinois TV

I’m typically keeping an eye on my local media, especially our local Sinclair-owned station. So I’m a little chagrined that I missed a mention of our CBS affiliate WCIA (“We’re watching you, watching us”) in the recent New York Times article on the proliferation of US Gov’t sponsored PR “news” stories getting aired all over on local TV news programs:

To fill the gap, WCIA turned to the Agriculture Department, which has assembled one of the most effective public relations operations inside the federal government. The department has a Broadcast Media and Technology Center with an annual budget of $3.2 million that each year produces some 90 “mission messages” for local stations – mostly feature segments about the good works of the Agriculture Department.

“I don’t want to use the word filler, per se, but they meet a need we have,” [WCIA News Director] Mr. Gee said.

Thanks to Tarbell’s post to the Urbana-Champaign IMC for calling my attention to this.

Guess I’ve been too busy watching translator stations.

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Alleged Translator Traffickers Volley

Yesterday the Edgewater Broadcasting / Radio Assist Ministry / World Radio Link triumverate filed a motion (download pdf) to dismiss the Prometheus et al petition to freeze the ongoing issuing of new translator radio station licenses by the FCC.

Edgewater et al are three companies owned by the same three individuals. Edgewater and Radio Assist Ministries have applied for thousands of low-power translator station licenses, which are now being sold off by World Radio Link before any actual stations have even been built.

Prometheus et al believe the scheme amounts to trafficking in translator construction permits for stations that aren’t even on the air yet, against FCC policy and federal law.

Edgewater et al don’t mince words in their response to the FCC. Attorney Dawn M. Sciarrino writes:

The Petition fails to make a prima facie case that the grant of any or all of the pending FM Translator applications is inconsistent with Section 309(a) of the Act, 47 D.S.C. § 309(a), nor does it raise a
substantial and material question of fact regarding the qualifications or actions of the Ministries. … Petitioners’ hyperbole, conjecture, and histrionics do not amount to a scintilla of evidence of wrongdoing.

In a footnote, Sciarrino targets Gloria Tristani, Managing Director of the Office of Communications of the United Church of Christ and a former FCC Commissioner, claiming that she improperly contacted other FCC Commissioners regarding the Prometheus petition.

It certainly looks like the gloves are off. There is too much money on the table for Edgewater et al to ignore.

This afternoon I spoke to Howard Feld, the Prometheus et al attorney with the Media Access Project, for an interview that will air on this Friday’s radioshow. He tipped me off to the Edgewater et al motion, and said they plan to reply to the motion very soon.

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Preserving the Sounds of Pirate Radio

In a brief music news piece, the Boulder Daily Camera reports (bugmenot passwd) that 400 hours of shows and “Live at Studio Free” sessions from the departed Boulder Free Radio are going to a new online stations called The Boulder Sound. The article lists the webstream address as http://stream.thebouldersound.com:8501/listen.pls but I got nothing there. The main website just gives the message “coming soon.”

The article also notes that Monk, the station’s progenitor, is giving away the station’s equipment to “worthy causes,” and that the station’s mobile-unit van has been impounded for unpaid parking tickets.

I’m glad that somebody had the forethought to record some of the station’s programs. Radio, especially the last remaining outposts of freeform and locally-produced noncommercial radio, is an ephemeral medium. Many moments of brilliance (and stupidity and mundanity) are lost to the aether and noted only by those who happened to be tuned in. Since pirate radio is the most underground, too many of the moments go noticed by too few.

Thus, recordings of pirate stations are valuable both as historical artifacts and for their own sake and enjoyment.

It would be very cool if some of those recordings could be made available for download, as well. Radio Indymedia and Radio4All offer lots of archive space which many unlicensed stations already take advantage of.

The exchange of programs between pirate stations helps make the movement more coherent, while celebrating its diversity and without forcing the overhead of having formal orgnanizations and federations. Why not be able to turn on the radio in Chicago and hear the sounds of pirate radio from Santa Cruz?

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Prometheus and Friends Petition FCC to Freeze Edgewater/RAM Translator Apps

John and DIYmedia tipped me off to the petition, filed this past Wednesday, March 9, asking the FCC to freeze the processing of applications for new translators stations, based upon allegations of trafficking, as covered here at mediageek and at DIYmedia. The coalition behind the petition includes the Prometheus Radio Project, REC Networks (which did the primary research that smoked out the trafficking scheme) and the United Church of Christ.

In the petition, they write:

Prometheus Radio et al have discovered evidence of a massive trafficking scheme in violation of the Communications Act and longstanding Commission policy. Three individuals, Clarke Parrish, Earl Williamson, and Diana Atkin, used two dummy corporations – Radio Assist Ministry, Inc. and Edgewater Broadcasting, Inc. – to apply for thousands of translator licenses in the March 2003 Translator Window… The Applicants have used a third dummy company, World Radio Link, Inc., to aggressively market the naked construction permits. …

As the Commission has long recognized, allowing the sale of naked construction permits in the broadcast services is contrary to the public interest and corrupts the integrity of the Commission’s processes. The harm to the public is particularly onerous here, because these translator licenses come at the expense of future low power FM stations.

The LA Times is the only mainstream news outlet to cover the petition, and, unsurprisingly, they fail to get comment from REC, Edgewater or World Radio Link. An FCC spokesperson tells the Times that the commission is aware of the situation and is “working tirelessly to ensure a fair balance between the needs of the broadcasters and the communities they serve.”

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