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
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 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.