On February 27, 1998, attorneys for Prayze FM, an unlicensed,
black-oriented Christian micro station in Bridgeport, Connecticut, asked
U.S. District Judge Warren W. Eginton for a temporary restraining order
against the Federal Communications Commission. Their station's case --
an unusual one, in that they are suing the FCC rather than the other way
around -- was pending, and they wanted to ensure that the Commission
wasn't going to order a raid of the premises in the weeks before the
case began, seize their equipment, and otherwise cause damage.
Judge Eginton refused, in part because the government's attornies
assured him that they were not planning any such invasion. When Prayze
FM's lawyers brought up the heavy-handed Tampa raids, government counsel
Alan Soloway gave this interesting explanation for the events of last
"The Tampa, Florida case involved individuals who were urging the armed
resistance to the United States, and in fact possessed weapons in the
station at the time that the warrant was effectuated, there was a very
real threat to agents of the FCC, agents of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, and other law enforcement personnel that effectuated that
warrant of arrest. That situation is not present here."
Well, it wasn't present in Florida, either.
The judge did not issue the restraining order, but he does seem very
sympathetic to the broadcasters. "All First Amendment issues I think are
important," he explained. "I think the balance would favor Prayze.
Certainly, the likelihood of success I think is very great for Prayze
here. I know the Government may disagree with me on that and that's not
a judgement that can be made until the record is fully unfolded here.
But it does seem to me that where you've got evidence of a media
operation trying to perform, certainly you should favor this type
especially of media operations."
An interesting tale, this. More to come.