Unlicensed Radio Station Sues FCC

Date sent:        Wed, 15 Apr 1998 21:39:41 -0700 (PDT)
From:             MichaelP <papadop@peak.org>
Subject:          AP Story

               April 15, 1998

          Unlicensed Radio Station Sues FCC

          Filed at 5:50 p.m. EDT

          By The Associated Press

          NEW YORK (AP) -- ``Pirate Jenny'' just wants to
          broadcast her feminist radio show. ``Alice in Reality''
          wants to keep doing freelance interviews and
          storytelling. And all ``E.S.E.'' wants to do is talk
          about poetry and hip-hop.

          Alas, their 20-watt, unlicensed station on Manhattan's
          Lower East Side, called ``Steal This Radio,'' was
          unplugged last month after the Federal Communications
          Commission threatened to seize its equipment.

          Now the station is fighting back. It went back on the
          air Wednesday, just minutes after suing the FCC,
          Attorney General Janet Reno and the Justice Department
          over free-speech rights.

          ``We're here today to make the FCC answer to the
          Constitution because we have the right to communicate,''
          STR co-founder Greg Ruggierio said at a news conference.

          As station loyalists espoused their cause, a boom box
          blared an angelic-sounding New Age instrumental with
          decidedly un-laidback -- and unprintable -- lyrics.

          In its lawsuit, STR claims a First Amendment right to
          speak via the airwaves, arguing it provides an important
          outlet for local news and opinion. The station wants the
          FCC to let it broadcast without a license.

          An FCC spokeswoman did not immediately return a
          telephone call for comment.

          Getting a new radio station license in Manhattan is
          nearly impossible because the commission has given away
          most available frequencies. And since 1978, the FCC has
          refused to grant licenses to stations that broadcast
          under 100 watts, and operating at that level would cost
          at least $50,000, according to the lawsuit.

          STR said it can't afford to power at 100 watts because
          it relies on donations to run the station.

          The station began broadcasting in November 1995 on 88.7
          FM. Last month, the FCC received a complaint from
          Hofstra University that STR's signal was interfering
          with the school's public radio station, the lawsuit

          Hofstra did not immediately return a call for comment.

          An FCC official visited STR's office and told staffers
          that U.S. marshals would seize their equipment unless
          they stopped broadcasting. The station decided to pull
          the plug March 6.

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