This week the number of new LPFM application grants crossed the 1000 mark, with the tally increasing daily. Amid the grants, the FCC also issued a Letter of Inquiry to Hispanic Christian Community Network president Antonio Cesar Guel. In its letter dated February 21, the FCC is seeking more information about 14 applications prepared by Guel, including 9 for new LPFM stations in Texas.
As we’ve reported previously, several groups have expressed concern about some of the 200+ applications prepared by Guel, with REC Networks filing an Informal Objection against 245 applications, Common Frequency filing Petitions to Deny against 63 applications, Prometheus filing informal objections against several applications, and Rice University filing informal objections against 15 applications in the Houston area. In each case, it’s asserted that these applications do not represent actual, local organizations. In the face of these protests, Guel’s attorney filed an objection to the objections and continues to file amendments to various applications. In its letter of inquiry, the FCC writes,
The Bureau is investigating potential statutory and rule violations and related instances of potential misrepresentation and/or lack of candor in connection with the Applications. Specifically, the Bureau is investigating (a) the authenticity of the applicants and the parties to the Applications, (b) the validity of information provided in and certifications made in the Applications, and (c) compliance with the ownership and application limits that apply to LPFM applicants.
Guel is being given 30 days in order to provide more detail about each of the applications, including specific information about main studio locations, transmitter sites, and organizational personnel. Thus far, no Guel-penned applications have been granted and 73 have been dismissed, including a few this week (Miami Hispanic Community Radio, Cedar Hill Hispanic Community Church, Fords Hispanic Community Radio, and Alexandria Hispanic Community Radio).
In a statement this week, Michelle Bradley of REC Networks praised the FCC for investigating these applications. She writes,
Our only hope at this time is that the FCC act on these applications as quickly as possible as they will impact the standing of the other pending applications…Our filing of the objection was not influenced by profit but by integrity. Citizens are the eyes and ears for the FCC. The FCC works for us and they depend on us to alert them to potential issues. LPFM does not belong to the big corporations, even the big non-commercial corporations. It belongs to citizens and residents of our great nation. It’s only a small piece of the pie but REC and the other advocates will do everything we can to defend every morsel of it.
Overall, we’re still seeing a wide array of non-profits being granted applications, from colleges to school districts to cities to Elks Lodges to arts organizations to church groups. In culling through applications, it’s hard to determine the number of applicants who are affiliated with larger organizations. In some cases, similarly named groups may just share a faith or possibly administrative support in completing applications, yet in other cases, there could be an attempt by one individual or group to accumulate as much of the radio band as possible.
In addition to REC Networks’ work in investigating the Guel applications, Prometheus Radio Project has been carefully monitoring LPFM applications for improprieties. According to Prometheus’ Policy Director Sanjay Jolly,
There were a whole host of mass filers in the LPFM window. Most mass-filed applications came from just a few religious broadcasters. Hispanic Christian Community Network appears to be the biggest, with about 250 applications. Sterling Communications Group is another, with about 150 applications. A Seventh Day Adventist group also mass-filed a bunch of LPFM applications throughout the country. Prometheus has filed or is in the process of filing informal objections or petitions to deny against applicants from all of these groups.
Jolly also pointed out that some mass-filers are small, filing “2 to 5 applications in a single market. They’re identifiable by having identical missions statements and/or because their parties to the application all share the same surname.”
At Radio Survivor we will continue to monitor developments surrounding LPFM, from the mass-filers to the tiniest of applicants.
LPFM Watch is a weekly feature on Radio Survivor appearing every Thursday.
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