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LPFM Watch: Another Radio Pirate Denied an LPFM

The first new low-power FM construction permit since January has been issued, to Wimberly Texan Radio, in Wimberly, TX. Also, in the last two weeks 18 new LPFMs have received their licenses.

There was one interesting dismissal from an applicant that the FCC determined was associated with an unlicensed station. As discovered and reported to the Commission by REC Networks, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau served to Radhames Severino a Notice of Unauthorized Operation on November 7, 2006, followed by a Notice of Apparent Liability on May 26, 2009 for broadcasting on 101.5 FM in Houston, TX without a license. Severino was a party to an application filed by Ministerios del Instituto Biblico Elohim in Cypress, TX.

Federal law prohibits any person formally associated with a pirate station from operating a LPFM. However, as we have learned, the FCC sets a high bar for evidence of unlicensed activity, having even dismissed press reports as insufficient. Effectively the Commission really only accepts evidence collected by its own field agents or law enforcement agencies–in the three states where unlicensed broadcasting is a state-level offense–as sufficient to substantiate dismissing an LPFM application.

In this case the FCC indeed had records of Severino’s alleged unlicensed activity, which the accused never formally contested. Yet, it is interesting that it was left up to a third party to turn up this fact, not the Commission itself.

REC also notes that this application was one associated with the infamous Cesar Guel, who has his fingerprints on 245 LPFM applications, a fact that REC and other groups say is in violation of FCC rules limiting most groups and persons to just one application. There are now 85 Guel-associated applications yet to be processed by the FCC, out of a total 118 LPFM applications still pending.


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