Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

FCC Yanked High School Radio Station Broadcast Licenses

from the not-very-scholarly dept

Micromaster writes "While much of the tech world is focused on internet distribution for video, radio, and podcasts, the world of FM Radio is still alive and strong. So it makes sense to provide experience and learning at the Public School level to students as a way to learn broadcasting and communication skills while providing a public service. Many high schools have been on the air for years broadcasting local news, school information weather and other items of community interest. However, with limited frequencies available, large commercial and non-profit organizations are petitioning for and taking over frequencies used by these public school stations. The New York Times recently reported that in the past year alone at least 20 schools have had to fight off challenges to their licenses. One such station, WAVM-FM has been broadcasting since the early 1970's and has lost its license, pending appeal to the FCC, to the California-based religious group Living Proof Broadcasting." While, these days, it almost seems like students would be better off going with internet distribution anyway, it still seems extremely questionable to take away this high school's license.

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  1. identicon
    Thomas, 16 Jan 2006 @ 6:40am

    The airwaves belong to the people

    Internet broadcasting is not yet a viable alternative to FM radio. While the bleeding edge of the early-adoption curve has the ability to listen to Internet streams on the go, the majority of the population doesn't. Having done some radio work in high school and college I think it's despicable that any non-profit student run station should lose it's license. Especially to a large non-profit based out of state. Just another in the long line of examples of how Bush's FCC favors big business over it's responsibilities to communities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    confused, 16 Jan 2006 @ 7:44am

    No Subject Given

    What I find amusing is that with the broad range of frequencies there are, we even have a dispute. If I remember correctly, certian frequencies are assigned to certian 'sectors' of business. Why could'nt the church group just get a freq that is not being used?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Michael Ward, 16 Jan 2006 @ 10:19am

    Re: frequency allocations

    Limited number of frequencies available in a congest spectrum area like greater Boston.

    As long as it was limited to 10 watts, the station was unlikely to interfere with other non-commercial broadcasters. Raising the power to 250 watts introduced the possibility of adjacent-channel or co-channel interference with other broadcasters.

    What is unclear from the article is why the FCC "simply gave away" the frequency to a non-local group like this obscure religious operation. Was the fix in? Are they raising money for somebody the FCC Chairman favors?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Thomas, 16 Jan 2006 @ 11:42am

    Re: frequency allocations

    The FCC process involves looking at how the public interest will be best served (well that's how they put it at least). And in their beauracratic wisdom they determined the Christian station would reach more people (~2000 from their app) than the currently existing station. If all things had been determined to be equal between the applying stations (there were more than just the Christian one) it would have gone to a point system which the High School probably would have won since points are awarded for being localy based and affiliated with a school (the high school was the only applicant who would get those points).

    The high school station is essentially being punished for being located in a smaller town than the rival proposition. The public comment period for this ended Nov. 4th and the station is awaiting the results of the appeal. Hopefully they were able to garner enough public comment to avoid being turned off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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