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<nettime> LA Times: Judge Backs FCC Shutdown of Radio Microbroadcaster
{ brad brace } on Thu, 18 Jun 1998 05:34:13 +0200 (MET DST)


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<nettime> LA Times: Judge Backs FCC Shutdown of Radio Microbroadcaster


This is truly sad...


>From the Los Angeles Times, Orange County edition

JUDGE BACKS FCC SHUTDOWN OF RADIO MICROBROADCASTER
>From Associated Press

OAKLAND, CA -- A federal judge allowed the government on Tuesday to shut
down "Free Radio Berkeley", run by an unlicensed low-power broadcaster who
has fought a five-year guerilla war against the way federal authorities
regulate the airwaves. 

U.S. Destrict Judge Claudia Wilken declined to rule on most of Stephen
Dunifer's free-speech challenges to Federal Communications Commission
restrictions because Dunifer never applied for an FCC license.  She
rejected Dunifer's argument that federal law fails to set standards for
the FCC's decisions on licensing so-called microbroadcasters. 

Dunifer, who founded his 50-watt FM station in 1993, says the station is
"part of an ever-growing micropower broadcasting movement to liberate the
airwaves and break the corporate broadcast media's stranglehold on the
free flow of news, information, ideas, cultural and artistic creativity." 

He has sold hundreds of inexpensive kits that enable fellow radio rebels
to transmit in a radius of five to 15 miles.  Dunifer and his colleagues
say the tens of thousands of dollars needed for a license application, and
the hundreds of thousands needed to open a station, excludes all but the
rich. 

FCC officials consider such opeations an invitation to chaos on the
airwaves.  They first tried to shut down Dunifer in 1995.  Until now,
Wilken had let him stay on the air while she considered his claims that
the government was violating free speech and exceeding its legal authority
to regulate in the public interest. 

But in Tuesday's ruling, Wilken said Dunifer was not entitled to challenge
the FCC's regulations on licensing low-power broadcasters because he had
never applied for a license or a waiver from licensing requirements. 

Dunifer could not be reached for comment.  Alan Korn, one of this lawyers,
declined to comment, saying he had not seen the ruling. 



This just in...

- This is Your Moderator of the Space Platform program (1995-1998?) on
Free Radio Berkeley.  As you've all heard by now, the tables have been
turned on us in what amounts to a shocking reversal; Alameda County
Superior Court Judge Claudia Wilkens has granted the FCC the power to shut
us down after three years of existing in somewhat of a legal gray area
which allowed us to continue broadcasting.  Free Radio Berkeley mustered
up a great deal of support for micropower broadcasting in that time and
we're all saddened and trying to regroup and continue focusing our
efforts. 

I'm writing this message to encourage people to stay in touch with the
station via our website: www.freeradio.org., which has been featuring a
live RealAudio stream of our (previously) 24 hr/7 days-a-week broadcast. 
In an emergency meeting last night which went deep into the wee hours the
idea was tossed around to try to keep the station up and running via the
web...admittedly a very different idea than being a local community radio
voice, but one which, I hope, would keep this grassroots group together as
best as possible and not dilute the message entirely. 

As of this 10:00 AM writing we _are_ off the air and no RealAudio
broadcast is happening, either, but I am hopeful that we will take a few
days or a week to sort this out and return via www.freeradio.org...and at
that point, ANYONE with a transmitter can (take the law into their own
hands and)  rebroadcast the signal over RADIO if they wished.  That's pure
conjecture at this point, but I'd like to encourage people to stay tuned
and stay informed to learn which direction we are able to go. 

I don't know at this moment which, if any, motions passed at the meeting
last night (I fled in terror after two hours) except one which surely
decided our immediate fate, since we're definitely silent at the moment. 
The transmitter and other valuable equipment absolutely had to be
protected at all costs, as the precedent has been set numerous times over
in these situations for the long arm of the law to violently seize and
destroy microbroadcasting equipment in raids at any hour of the day or
night.  I would like to stress that as far as I know as of this morning
there has been no "raid"...yet. 

A more informative press release from Stephen Dunifer and/or the legal
camp will probably follow.  This has been a fantastic and exciting three
years and as a broadcaster I want to thank all listeners for your support
and offer encouragement to those continuing to broadcast in other regions.
Here's hoping for more.  In the meantime, in true WAR OF THE WORLDS style,
the Space Platform begs the question, "Is there anyone on the air?  Is
there... anyone?" 

Your Moderator The Space Platform Free Radio Berkeley



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