The FCC And Community Radio


There is a small but growing number of Americans who place the importance of their heritage of freedom and personal responsibility before sports, hobbies, and the material things of life. Most of these individuals believe that both major political parties have allowed large corporations to exploit the American people and restrict their freedoms.

These people understand that the dominant media are entrenched in the corporate mindset and have not kept Americans properly informed. They understand that they must compensate for this by turning to alternative media sources. Various means have been employed. Low-power FM broadcasting has been shown to be an effective method.

The Federal Communications Commission insists all low-power stations must be licensed. It claims the sole right to issue such licenses.  In reality, the FCC chooses to deny licenses to the vast majority of low-power broadcast stations.  Its' position on the matter has been shaped entirely by big broadcasting interests.

The Federal Communications Commission has placed itself in an impractical position with regard to short-range FM broadcasts. On September 13, 1982, Congress passed the Communications Act of 1982. Until that time, low-power stations, whose signals had no significant affect across a state line, could operate as a matter of constitutionally protected right.

Since 1982, the FCC claims it must license even those radio communications that are confined to a single state. There is no provision in the U.S. Constitution that would authorize the Federal government to license an activity that affects only one Union state. Low-power stations have a perfect right to broadcast, provided they cause no harmful interference.

Lutz Community Radio began broadcasting in February of 1995, operating exclusively within the legally defined boundries of Florida. On March 7, 1996, citing special "maritime" law, a Tampa federal court ordered the seizure of the Lutz radio station equipment. Prior to the taking, there was no substantive due process of law afforded to the owner of the equipment, Lonnie Kobres.

Kobres immediately filed court papers in an effort to have his equipment returned. On August 24, 1997, without any analysis of Kobres' rationale for operation, Federal Judge Steven D. Merryday granted summary judgement in favor of the government.

In the absense of any plausable explanation as to why his rationale might not be sufficient, Kobres had resumed broadcasting with new equipment. Lutz Community Radio remained on the air until November 19, 1997, when the equipment was taken again by the government.  This time Kobres was arrested.  Once again there was no substantive due process of law provided.

Kobres continued to cite a constitutionally protected right to operate within Florida. In an effort to insure the government was forced to analyze his defense this time, Kobres hired constitutional lawyer Lowell H. Becraft, Jr. Because the single-judge trial court was not likely to analyze a constitutional defense, it was necessary that Becraft file an appropriate appeal brief.

Without knowledge of Kobres, when the time arrived for Becraft to file the appeal brief, he omitted the critically important constitutional defense argument. An accomplished paralegal and personal friend of Kobres submitted an Amicus Curia brief that would have required the government to analyze the constitutional defense. Without citing any reason, the government refused to allow the paralegals amicus brief to be filed into the case.

The record shows that the U.S. government is afraid to allow the Communications Act of 1982 to be tested for conformance with constitutional principles. If an American citizen operates a small radio station based on a constitutionally protected right, with no criminal intent, he may be jailed, fined, and his equipment taken, and all of this done without due process of law. Further, his constitutional defense will be ignored. Such form of government can best be described as criminal.