San Francisco Liberation Radio Raided by FCC

I was speaking with a volunteer from Radio Free Brattleboro, arranging an interview for Friday’s radioshow, when she asked if I had heard about San Francisco Liberation Radio getting shut down — and I hadn’t. She didn’t have any more details, so right after talking with her I went to San Francisco IMC, which has just a very sketchy report:

Around 11am, upwards of 25 FCC agents, federal marshalls and the SFPD brought a warrant to the studio of San Francisco Liberation Radio, the micropower radio station that has broadcast in SF since 1993. Reports have stated that no arrests have been made, though the station’s equipment and antenna have been seized.

According to a phone call received by Freak Radio Santa Cruz from someone saying she was at SFLR, the raid happened sometime around noon today, Pacific time.

The FCC last visited SFLR on July 2, when two agents approached the station, but were denied entry, since they didn’t have a warrant. According to the stations’s website, the two FCC agents

hand-delivered a “notice of unlicensed radio operation.” The warning noted, “You refused to allow an inspection of your radio equipment in violation of Sections of the Communications act of 1934. You don’t have a license at the time of inspection. Operation without a license is illegal … Radio stations must be licensed the only exceptions are stations below 1 MHz.”

The station was given until July 20 to present a “proof of a license or authority to operate this radio station.”

Then in August, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of a resolution in support of SFLR, urging the FCC to leave it alone, and further urging

“state and local law enforcement officials to refrain from involvement in activities that prevent San Francisco Liberation Radio 93.7 FM and other diverse local media from providing healthy democratic local media in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

According to the phonecall made to Freak Radio Santa Cruz, SFLR was raided by twenty-five federal marshalls. No mention was made about local San Francisco police, although SFPD were reported to be on scene by the short notice posted to SF IMC. So we really don’t yet know if they abided by the Board of Supervisor’s admonishment not to assist the FCC in shutting the station down.

When agents visited SFLR in July, their warning letter gave a deadline of July 20, which is almost three months ago. So, obviously, the FCC isn’t adhering strictly to these deadlines, but nonetheless is following up with force.

Radio Free Brattleboro got a similar warning from the FCC in early September, with a letter threatening to come back with federal marshalls to conduct a raid in ten days from the visit. About six weeks later, the FCC hasn’t been back. Given the delay with both RFB and SFLR, it makes one wonder if the FCC isn’t gearing up to make a wave of busts.

SFLR has been on the air in one form or another for about ten years, so this is truly sad news for the city of San Francisco, and for all of us who care about grassroots communications. It may also be another warning that the FCC is still taking its war on non-commercial community media seriously.






One response to “San Francisco Liberation Radio Raided by FCC”

  1. […] San Francisco Liberation Radio, which was shut down by the FCC in October, 2003, will be challenging the Commission face-to-face in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals this […]

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