Stephen Dunifer Responds to NAB & FCC

Date sent:        Sun, 5 Oct 1997 16:40:10 -0700 (PDT)
From:             Stephen Dunifer <>

In response to the direct attack on micropower broadcasting by the
National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) we, as a coalition of
Micropower Broadcasters, supporters and interested parties, make the
following statement.

By ordering its members to actively seek out and report all "pirate" radio
activity in their respective areas the NAB is advocating a direct attack
on the free speech rights of micropower broadcasters and the communities
they serve.  Such actions are fundamentally anti-democratic and typify the
behavior of a greedy, mendacious corporate thug and bully.  To portray
people and communities representing a diverse range of viewpoints and
cultures, and who merely want to have a voice, as "pirates" is slanderous
at best.  We are engaging in protected free speech activity, not skulking
around committing felonious acts.

We are faced with a broadcast regulatory structure which precludes all but
the wealthy from having a voice.  Prior to 1980 there was at least a
possibility of obtaining a class D 10 watt license.  That classification
was removed by the FCC after 10 years of intensive lobbying by the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) which sought to establish
regional flagship NPR stations and did not want the 10 watt stations in
their way.

Without the vast resources of either the NAB or CPB with which to
influence congressional decisions and regulatory re-structuring, our only
option is to do what has historically been done, from the tea dumping in
Boston Harbor to current struggles for free expression and basic human

Accelerated by the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the
concentration of broadcast media resources into fewer and fewer hands has
made the notion of "public service" a bad joke. It is leading to an ever
escalating elimination of local origination.  Selling prices of broadcast
facilities have reached astronomical levels.  For over 60 years members of
the NAB have been allowed to make an obscene level of profit from a public
resource and trust.  In addition, in concert with government and corporate
interests, they are instrumental in either limiting or squelching the
terms of debate on a wide spectrum of issues vital to a democratic and
free society.

What are the FCC and NAB afraid of ?  In a situation of 1-50 watts versus
10,000 to 125,000 watts it has to be something much more fundamental than
market share.  Based on statements made by the FCC it is clear they have
no thought of ever revisiting the issue of issuing broadcast licenses for
stations with less than 100 watts of power.  What they are doing is
issuing large numbers of translator licenses for transmitters with less
than 100 watts in order to import an outside signal into a shadowed
community.  In essence, they are creating a dual standard which restricts
free speech activity based upon point of origin by denying communities the
right to broadcast at less than 100 watts.

We are willing at any time to sit down with the FCC and the NAB to discuss
these issues which have profound significance for our society.  As a
possible solution we propose a deregulated, low power, inexpensive FM (and
possibly AM) broadcast service.  Standing in the way of thousands of
communities having their own voice is an entrenched federal agency serving
not the public interest but corporate greed and influence.

It is not our intent to interfere with existing broadcast services.  We
urge all micropower broadcasters to properly select frequencies, use
frequency stable transmitters, employ harmonic filtering and control
modulation levels.

Further, in closing, if the NAB continues this "seek and destroy" agenda,
we will fight back.  Local broadcast entities who engage in a campaign
against micropower free radio stations purely on the basis of their
existence will be targeted along with their advertisers for a public
boycott.  When local businesses advertisers begin to have pickets and
leafleters on their doorstep it will become very clear to local NAB
members that their course of action is a very unwise one to pursue.  In
the court of public opinion we will prevail.

Stephen Dunifer
Free Radio Berkeley