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#3500: FCC Moves To Legalise Pirate Stations [Haiti interest] (fwd)

From: radman <resist@best.com>

radman says:
"Corrected Repeat" or not, the fact checkers at this organization seem to
be asleep at the switch. 
I have inserted a correction where appropriate and identified it as such.
Any more?
       Copyright 2000 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
          Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

                      *** 04-May-0* ***

Title: //CORRECTED REPEAT// MEDIA: FCC Moves To Legalise Pirate Stations

By Roosevelt Joseph

NEW YORK, May 4 (IPS) - In the last five years, the number of
pirate Creole language radio stations in Brooklyn, Queens and New
Jersey has been growing steadily. With names like Radio Etincelle,
Radio Galaxy Plus, Radio Lakay, Radio Petion-Ville, these stations
can be found mostly on FM dials and have been popping up in
Haitian enclaves, serving a group where radio is the glue that
holds it together.

But with legalisation looming, these illegal stations, which are
mostly low power, may decide that remaining illegal is better than
being regulated by the Federal Government.

"The amount of regulations that the FCC is going to impose on the
license, the fees will kill them," says Vladimir Petit-Frere,
owner of Radio Etincelle in Flatbush, Brooklyn. "It's going to
cost those with licenses a lot of money to keep up with the
regulations. And low-power radio cannot operate as a commercial
station, so where are they going to get the money?"

But money is not the only problem the newly licensed broadcasters
will face, adds Petit-Frere. Stations will be subjected to regular
inspection, and every little piece of equipment will need to keep
up with the regulations in order to meet strict FCC (Federal
Communications Commission) approval, he notes.

Those who have licenses will be shut down within a year because
they will not be able to keep up with the regulations, he

But John Dingers, Professor of Journalism at Columbia University,
says fears of widespread shutdowns are unfounded.

"This is the biggest advance in community radio in 50 years,"
Dingers said. "For anyone to say what the FCC is doing is a trick
is just plain silly. Micro power radio stations would allow some
people in small towns to broadcast football, basketball and
anything that is community-oriented."

Ricot Dupuy, manager of Radio Soleil in Flatbush, Brooklyn, said
he supports legalisation, but it must be done in a way that protects
the interests of all the players.

"Allowing small communities access to the airwaves is a good thing
to do," said Dupuy, whose radio station operates on a special chip
as a sort of cable radio. "The whole micro radio thing is a
legitimate demand for under-served communities."

In Haiti, most people get their news from the radio, partly
because of a high rate of illiteracy and because most people can't
afford a television. At times of political and social unrest,
radio reporters and stations are the first to be targeted and shut

Michael Bracy, Executive Director of the Low-Power Radio
Coalition, or LPFM, adamantly supports the FCC move to open up the
airwaves to small broadcasters.

"This clearly will be the most significant opportunity in decades
for community groups, educational institutions, religious
organisations and local governments," said Bracy.

"LPFM will provide a low-cost means of serving urban communities
and neighbourhoods around the United States," said Rev. Calvin O.
Butt of the Abyssinian Church of Harlem. "In the Village of Harlem
in New York City County, LPFM can help to unite our local
residents, while ensuring that their collective needs and concerns
are addressed."

Earlier this year, the FCC voted to open the radio airwaves to
hundreds of small broadcasters to run inexpensive low-power FM
radio stations.

The new LPFM services consisted of two classes of LPFM radio
stations with maximum power levels of 10 watts and 100 watts. The
10 watt stations would reach an area of two miles radius and the
100 watt stations would have a maximum radius of four miles, far
smaller than the territory reached by most commercial radio
stations but roughly the same range as many college stations.

But limiting the coverage area of these radio stations does not
sit well with broadcaster Petit-Frere. He said that with 100 watts
he can cover the five boroughs and part of New Jersey depending on
where his antenna is located.

Most of the FCC Commissioners, including Gloria Tristani and Susan
Ness, expressed support for opening the air waves to churches,
schools, and community-based organisations.

"My grandfather, the late US Senator Dennis Chavez, taught me that
one of the most important things we can do as public servants is
to give a voice to the voiceless," said commissioner Gloria
Tristani. "That's why I'm proud to support low-power radio.

"The new low-power service responds to the needs expressed by
thousands of individuals and community-based groups who envision a
vehicle to provide a very localised service."

"We begin a process that offers access to the airwaves to many
Americans," said FCC Chairman William E. Kennard in a statement
released recently. "I look forward to the FCC's receiving
applications from many groups that will have a voice to serve
their local communities."

His statement was welcomed by many low-power broadcasters,
including Ted Coopman of Black Liberation radio in Springfield,
Illinois and Stephen Dunbar who started Free Radio Berkeley in
California in 1993, both of whom called the move good news for
community radio.

[CORRECTED INSERT---radman says: 
Ted Coopman runs <www.roguecom.com> and 
is not a micro-broadcaster; he is also white and lives in California.
*M'banna Kantako* runs Black Liberation Radio in Springfield IL. 
Stephen *Dunifer* started Free Radio Berkeley.
Neither Stephen Dunifer nor M'banna Kantako would call the FCC's 
move "good news for community radio", but Ted Coopman would.]

But the National Association of Broadcasters, one of Washington's
most powerful lobbying groups, thinks that opening the FM band is
not such a good idea at all. The group says the new stations will
interfere with the signal of existing stations and also make the
transition to digital radio more difficult.

Petit-Frere does not think much of the move, its supporters or its
opponents. He does not much care what the FCC does, particularly
as he is sceptical of the body's motives.

"License or not, I will still go on the air anyway. They can do
whatever they want, but pirate radio will go on," he says.


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