|Americans believe our constitution guarantees our rights of free speech and press. Without access to the means of mass communication, these rights exist in name only. Our so-called free press is not free. It is owned by powerful corporate interests who use the public airwaves to enrich themselves at our expense. These interests are represented by the N.A.B. - The National Association of Broadcasters.
The NAB may well be the most powerful lobby in the US. The US Congress dares not cross them. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which is supposed to regulate the equitable use of the public airwaves, serves as their police force. In 1996, Congress passed the Telecommunications Act which legalized the theft of the public airwaves by the NAB. The Act lifted restrictions which severely limited the number of radio and television stations any one entity could own. The FCC, whose officials often get lucrative employment in the industry upon leaving government service, was told by the NAB that if it opposed the 1996 legislation, the NAB would see to it that the FCC would be disbanded. Campaign finance reform provisions which would have mandated free airtime for political candidates, and thus benefitted candidates not backed by big money, were also squashed by pressure from the N.A.B.
Americans are resisting this stranglehold on our ability to communicate freely. In the forefront of this battle is the Free Radio movement which works to put low-powered and inexpensive radio transmitters in the hands of local communities broadcasting in the public interest. These radio stations are presently illegal as the FCC will not license them. However, as recently as the 1978, it was possible to get a low cost license for a non-commercial stations under 100 watts. Pressure from the N.A.B. and from National Public Radio, which wanted to control the non-commerical band, resulted in the FCC eliminating these low-power licenses. Now, licensing costs are in the neighborhood of $250,000 dollars, even for non-profit broadcasters, and frequencies are selling for millions of dollars, beyond the reach of all but the wealthy.
Who are the real pirates here?
NAB's "kit" to defeat the legalization of Low Power FM
NAB surveils potemtial members for "ideological correctness" on Microradio Issue!
This resolution was passed on January 12th, 1998 by the NAB Radio Board:
The Radio Board of Directors of the National Association of Broadcasters is concerned about the continued proliferation of unlicensed, illegal "pirate" radio stations throughout the country. These unlicensed broadcast facilities undermine the Communications Act of 1934 and often cause interference to broadcast and other radio services, such as air navigation. We commend the enforcement efforts of the FCC and Department of Justice and urge additional enforcement activities including the creation of a task force within the D.O.J. We stand ready to support the goverment's effort to eliminate unlicensed radio broadcast stations in the United States.
The government's "effort" has consisted of seizing the property of broadcasters, levying of five-figure fines, armed raids and in some cases, imprisonment for exercising our constitutional rights to free speech on "our" airwaves. In spite of this, the number of Free Radio stations continues to increase.
In the face of this mass civil disobedience, the FCC is now considering re-legalizing low-power broadcasting. The NAB is fighting legalization every step of the way. Below is a FAX from the Minnesota Broadcasters Association, outlining the NAB's plan of attack.
TO: Station Managers
FR: Jim du Bois
DT: April 27,1998
RE: Microbroadcasting Comments
*****Important: Please Read Immediately*****
The FCC is currently accepting comments on several proposals to establish a low-power "microbroadcasting" radio service. Under the guise of the First Amendment, proponents of this service argue that current licensing procedures deny free speech rights to the thousands of individuals who desire a broadcasting station but cannot acquire one. Many of the individuals also argue that consolidation in the radio industry is severely limiting the diversity of programming and is contrary to the public interest.
The Washington, DC-based law firm of Fisher Wayland Cooper Leader & Zaragoza has drafted comments opposing microbroadcasting on behalf of several state broadcasting associations, including the MBA. These comments are being filed with the FCC today.
Attacking the arguments of the microbroadcasting advocates, the comments warn of the danger of creating a vast new category of hobby "broadcasters" who would jam the airwaves and potentially cause interference to full-power broadcasters and aviation frequencies. Creating a microbroadcasting service would, according the comments, amount to the "CB-ization" of radio and would create a regulatory nightmare for the FCC.
Broadcasters need to watch this issue closely.
FCC Chairman Bill Kennard is sympathetic to the would-be microbroadcasters'
cause, and he may have an ally in Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth.
You may wish to file your own comments regarding this proposal. Correspondence
sent to the FCC after today should be labled
[sic] as "reply comments" in reference to FCC File RM-9208 and
RM-9242. Send your comments to FCC, Room 222, 1919 M Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20554.
You may also want to educate your members of Congress on this issue. Consult the MBA's March and April newsletters for more information on the variousmicrobroadcasting proposals. You should avoid arguments suggesting that the proposed new service would create more competition; rather, you should emphasize the interference and regulatory problems microbroadcasting wouldcertainly generate. Please forward your FCC comments or any correspondencewith your congressional delegation to the MBA office.
Thank you for your cooperation.
[Note* - we have learned that since writing
this message above, the author Jim Du Bois lost his job -- as a result
of media consolidation! Media workers, make no mistake, your bosses don't
give a damn about you, and will throw you out in a heartbeat if it profits
them to do so. No matter how loyal you are, they have no loyalty to you.]
|NEW!The NAB's "kit" to defeat the legalization of Low Power FM
Greed meets Arrogance :
National Public Radio Joins the NAB
in Opposing the Legalization of Micro-broadcasting
"Microradio Proposals at FCC Opposed by NPR and NAB"
PUBLIC BROADCASTING REPORT
May 8, 1998
Citing a crowded spectrum and possible adoption of In-Band, On-Channel (IBOC) digital radio, broadcasters such as NPR and NAB opposed 2 petitions for rulemaking at FCC. The petitions promote microradio and low-power radio, respectively, but both involve low-watt broadcasting that might cover mile or so of ground. FCC Chmn. Kennard has expressed enthusiasm for the idea and is seen by some to be promoting it as way to increase diversity in mass media. That position was echoed by many who filed in favor of petitions, but NPR challenged the notion that microradio automatically would mean increase in diversity.
NPR and its stations support "fostering a diversity of broadcast voices," it said in April 27 filing. However, it said "it is neither self-evident nor established" in the 2 petitions that "diversity of media voices" will result from low-power radio. What is clear, NPR argued, is that "the broadcast spectrum in many portions of the country is now severely congested," and squeezing in microradio broadcasters undoubtedly would cause even more interference than already occurs. The problem would be exacerbated with the adoption of IBOC, it said, and would "undermine the transition to digital radio broadcasting." Microbroadcasters would be occupying the very spectrum radio licensees would need to provide their IBOC digital signal, it said. The FCC also would also be undertaking burdensome regulatory duty with microradio, NPR said. The FCC not only would have to register untold numbers of licensees, then monitor how those licenses changed hands, but microradio would have "profound implications" for agency's content regulations. Content regulation would be required for every microbroadcaster, it said, as "it makes no practical difference to the listener whether the source of the content is a low-power station transmitting from a mile away or a full-service station transmitting from 5 or 10 miles away." The filing suggested that if the goal is to provide a means for broadcasting diverse content, that function already is being served by Internet.
NAB argued in filing that the FCC has "firmly established" that low-power radio isn't efficient use of the spectrum and that microradio would "create small islands of usable coverage in an ocean of interference." Assn. said that allocating "hundreds -- or even thousands -- of new low-power stations" would undermine digital transition. Another drawback, it said, is that microradio wouldn't be available in most instances to mobile audiences, and, "more importantly, the FCC should not establish a new service...in order to curb the proliferation of pirate broadcasters." At NAB conference last month, FCC Comr. Furchtgott-Roth said that while pirate radio "is simply illegal and must be dealt with," microradio rulemaking "does not in any way, shape or form compromise" rights of licensees. Kennard made similar remarks there: "Let's not confuse pirate radio with microbroadcasting... We are going to... make sure that anything we do does not undermine the technical integrity of the broadcast airwaves."
Some 2 dozen individuals filed comments, all but 2 in favor of microradio proposals. Some cited consolidation in commercial radio following the Telecom Act as reason to promote microradio, with many echoing diversity arguments. InterNet Assn. said outdated interference protections for full-power stations no longer are needed because of technical advances.
The joint filing by 42 state broadcaster associations and P.R. said microradio "is so technically inferior that the proposed service makes a mockery of the word broadcast... This 'CB-ization' of radio broadcasting stands the Communications Act on its head." States also cited enforcement problems, which would be "catastrophic for the FCC and the nation's courts."
If you subscribe to a National Public Radio station, cancel your subscription and tell them why -- and that you won't subscribe until NPR takes a stand in support of legalization of micro-radio. If your local community radio station takes NPR programs, tell them you want them to boycott NPR until NPR supports Free Radio. Ask your local station to endorse Free Radio. Try to get on the air and talk to the listeners about supporting boycotts of NAB and NPR.
Demonstrate at stockholder's meetings of your nearest media conglomerate. Put pressure on stockholders to divest their holdings. Cause embarassment by mounting a public picket outside. Let the listeners of NAB member stations know that the station they listen to doesn't support free speech.
Target the state broadcast associations - here's a list of some with more to come.
ALSO: Community Radio activists in Michigan have introduced a resolution to re-legalize community radio into the Michigan Legislature. The Michigan arm of the NAB, the MAB is lobbying against the resolution -- why? Profits. What else. Click here for more info on how to get involved and who to comtact to begin a similar campaign in your state.
File legal challenges to the broadcasting licenses of NAB member stations based upon their lack of public access and community service
*Link to this page: http://www.radio4all.org/nab/
*Download our "Don't let them N.A.B. our airwaves" button at: http://www.radio4all.org/nabbutto.gif
Some links for more information on Free Radio and the NAB