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Friends of KTRU Hire Law Firm to Protest Sale of Rice University’s College Radio Station

It was announced today that Rice University has finalized its sale of student radio station KTRU to the University of Houston. University of Houston plans to use the FM frequency in order to expand its public radio offerings beyond its current station KUHF (Houston Public Radio). The hope to create a sister station, KUHC, which will provide classical music programming over KTRU’s current frequency of 91.7FM.

Although University of Houston knew that KTRU was up for sale as early as mid-2009, the announcement of the sale in August 2010 took KTRU staff members and listeners by surprise. According to a set of FAQs on the KUHF website, “The non-profit media broker Public Radio Capital worked with UH and KUHF to successfully negotiate the purchase from Rice University.”

Ever since the deal was first announced there’s been an organized effort to block the sale and that fight continues with this news. A group of students, alumni and community members called Friends of KTRU issued a press release today indicating that they aren’t giving up yet, as they’ve retained a law firm to help with their cause to keep KTRU on the terrestrial airwaves.

According to the press release,

“…the FM frequency will be shut down by the end of calendar year 2010 at the latest. ‘It is shameful that the Rice University administration    has not heeded the thousands of voices asking to stop the sale of KTRU,’ said KTRU station manager Joey Yang. ‘Instead, Rice has chosen to  throw away more than 40 years of student-run tradition in favor of a new cafeteria for the campus. For this reason, we must pursue legal avenues for stopping the sale. The fight has only just begun.'”

The FCC still needs to approve the station transfer. According to the FCC website,

“…all applicants to change an existing station’s community of license must give local notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the community in which the station is to be licensed. They must also afford an opportunity for the public to file comments on these applications with the Commission. Copies of the application must be maintained in the station’s public files or at a location accessible to the public…”

You can file an informal objection with KTRU, KUHF and with the FCC immediately and the public will also be invited to send in “petitions to deny” the application during the 30-day period after the FCC receives the formal application from University of Houston and Rice University regarding the sale of KTRU. The FCC document, The Public and Broadcasting (PDF), gives more details on how to contact the FCC in order to submit your comments.

Since their efforts with Rice University and University of Houston didn’t pan out, I’m assuming that Save KTRU and Friends of KTRU backers will now turn their attention toward crafting comments for the KTRU and KUHF public files as well as writing an official objection directed at the FCC. If you want to get started on your letters to the FCC, take a look at the ARD Guide to Fighting a Radio Sale. Although some of the information provided is a bit dated, the guide will give you a good starting point. Be sure to take a look at the FCC website for current contact information and guidelines for filing comments.

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