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LPFM News: FL Pirate Denied LPFM; Upcoming Events

It was a slow week in LPFM approvals, with just five construction permits issued. There’s one time-sharing arrangement in the bunch, with two Catholic-associated organizations broadcasting on 106.5 FM in Raleigh, NC. The Corporation for Educational Advancement will be on from 2 PM to 2 AM seven days a week, while the Columbus Club of Raleigh will air 2 AM to 2 PM.

Another Christian station, Fairhope Radio, received a construction permit for 89.9 FM in Fairhope, AL. The Electron Benders of Tulsa, OK, a group dedicated to “further the amateur in electronics, (and) aid in communications in disaster,” will broadcast at 103.9 FM, and one school district, in Lafayette, LA, was approved for a station at 93.1 FM.

Florida Pirate Denied LPFM

A former pirate broadcaster was denied a low-power FM license in Pinellas Park, FL. According to REC Networks, a local broadcaster and an LPFM applicant sent the FCC new articles covering the arrest of Kervenson Joseph for unlicensed broadcasting. There is a state law in Florida prohibiting unlicensed broadcasting and Joseph was the principal contact for the applicant WKMJ Radio Live the People Station, Inc.

The Commission was then able to corroborate the arrest with a case report from the local police, which indicated that Joseph was arrested about a week after filing his LPFM application.

REC reports that this is the first application from this round of LPFM licensing that was dismissed due to unlicensed operation. While allegations of unlicensed activity have been raised in informal objections and petitions to deny, the targeted applications have been dismissed for other causes.

Apparently, the burden of proof of pirate activity is pretty high. REC notes that the Commission said that news reports were insufficient evidence. Since unlicensed operation is only illegal in three states, building a case against an accused pirate is going to be difficult unless the FCC itself has taken action against the unlicensed broadcast.

While the unlicensed micro-power radio movement of the 1990s was one catalyst for the creation of LPFM in 2000, Congress twice has acted to deny licenses to persons known to have engaged in unlicensed broadcasting. This first happened in 2001, as a provision–later overturned by the courts–of the same bill that forced LPFM stations to obey the same spacing as full-power stations. The prohibition was reinstated with the Local Community Radio Act of 2010, which also restored the Commission’s original spacing requirements, paving the way to the current expansion of low-power radio.

Events of Interest to LPFM

There are two upcoming events of interest to low-power broadcasters and supporters.

The Alliance for Community Media Northwest is holding a summit Friday March 27 and Saturday March 28 in Seattle. The summit brings together broadcasters and media makers from Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Panel topics include important policy issues, regional collaboration and fundraising, along with medium-specific breakouts.

This year the annual Version Festival in Chicago is dedicated to LPFM with the theme of “100 Watts.” The Public Media Institute, the non-profit that organizes Version Fest, received its own LPFM construction permit, and so is making the festival “an on-air laboratory and campaign to create the kind of radio station we believe our city needs.” The festival happens April 23 to May 3.

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