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Pirate Radio Stations Challenge Feds 348

Thundgelmir writes "Yahoo news has an article about how pirate radio is taking on the FCC. It describes the growing trend of low-power FM stations, and their crusade to be heard across the country and around the internet." From the article: "Over four days, a dozen men and women shyly bumped shoulders as they studied schematics and tinkered with romex connectors, resistors, microphone cords, meters, sockets and capacitors — the stuff of illegal radio stations. 'We're not stealing anything. We're claiming something that's rightfully ours,' he says. His goal is to create FM radio stations faster than the FCC can shut them down ... 'It's always been our position that if enough people go on the air with their stations, the FCC will be overwhelmed and unable to respond.'"
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Pirate Radio Stations Challenge Feds

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  • Rights? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jaruzel ( 804522 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:50AM (#16182191) Homepage Journal
    We're claiming something that's rightfully ours

    How so ? Last time I checked, one needed a licence to broadcast on the FM frequencies.

  • Re:Rights? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:54AM (#16182219) Homepage
    That is an artificiality, implemented and enforced by a government agency. FM frequencies are merely a collective decision of a bunch of eletromagnetic energy to exist in a cohesive waveform for a period of time, and over a certain distance.
  • Re:Rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zapd ( 29091 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:55AM (#16182231)
    Last time I checked, one needed a licence to broadcast on the FM frequencies.

    Exactly. And it's not that the FCC likes to go after the pirate stations, TFA stated that FCC is complaint-driven, i.e. licensed stations are being pushed off the airwaves. Not polite.

    The pirates should fight for a "pirate" range in the FM spectrum where unlicensed transmitters van freely broadcast. Problem solved.
  • by minsk ( 805035 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:59AM (#16182255)
    It would seem that the solution to pirate radio is very simple. Look at why they are circumventing the regulations in the first place: expenses and rules. And more the former than the latter.

    The FCC's complaint is interference with licensed stations and/or emergency/critical services. So push prices down for low-wattage transmitters, and the FCC might find that they get more small radio stations following their rules... and that has got to be cheaper than crews in million dollar vans running all over the country playing whack-a-mole.
  • Re:Dupe. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Silver Sloth ( 770927 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:03AM (#16182281)
    This has more insight than it maybe looks at first glance. Here, in the UK, the 60's pirate boom was driven by the rise of the cheap transistor radio. Suddenly there were plenty of people who had a requirement for broadcast popular music that the established channels were not meeting. The pirates filled the gap until the establishment changed to meet it (Wonderful Radio 1!!).

    Now we have a new era with a new medium. The consuming public demand/expect that their requirements are met. The interesting question is whether the established media is as reactionary as in the 60's or whether they can meet the needs that the pirates meet.

  • Re:Dupe. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:06AM (#16182301) Homepage
    Well-said, thank you. As to the established media being able to adapt ... in recent history, they've started to show an interest in catching up to their innovative rivals. So this could play out VERY interestingly. But, I fear, whenever the MPAA or RIAA are involved, it may degenerate into a witch-hunt.

    So I hope this all just concerns news and talk radio! lol :)
  • by AWeishaupt ( 917501 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:10AM (#16182323)
    ...connectors, resistors, microphone cords, meters, sockets and capacitors -- the stuff of illegal radio stations...

    Good grief.
    To think, we're rapidly approaching the point where possession of a resistor makes you { potential radio pirate | cracker | terrorist | public enemy number one} in the eyes of the media.
  • Re:addendum (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mikesd81 ( 518581 ) <> on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:13AM (#16182335) Homepage
    I didn't say it was a perfect system. But how would you feel if somone set up a pirate cell cervice and you couldn't call out becuase of interference? You're paying for the service to send and receive phone calls, won't you be a little upset if the peope down the street are talking for free interupting your service?
  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:14AM (#16182337) Homepage
    It would seem that the solution to pirate radio is very simple. Look at why they are circumventing the regulations in the first place: expenses and rules. And more the former than the latter. The FCC's complaint is interference with licensed stations and/or emergency/critical services. So push prices down for low-wattage transmitters, and the FCC might find that they get more small radio stations following their rules..

    Huh? Commercial low wattage transmitters are about as cheap as they can reasonably be ($1k or less). The expense in question is the expense of complying with the rules - not that of the hardware.
  • by tetromino ( 807969 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:46AM (#16182505)
    But let's extend it. Pirate IP addresses! I should poison the arp cache on the router and redirect fileserver requests to my own workstation. After all, I am not stealing anything -- I have a natural right to use! And if some other users can't get their work done, well, tough luck. Haha, look at these silly network admins trying to track down the problem! They'll are overhelmed and unable to respond! Ooh, now how about pirate license plates. I like my professor's. It has a good ring to it. Yeah, he might be inconvenienced when I get caught by that red light camera -- but I am not stealing anything! And next day, I will just paint a new set of numbers on the plate! No way will they cops ever catch me! Hm, what else. Oh, let's try pirate usernames. Let's hack the forum and get a username I like. Yeah, someone else might be using it already. But who cares, it's not like I am stealing anything... And if the admin blocks me, I'll just go through to the backdoor I installed and get myself another username! They will never shut me down!
  • by GomezAdams ( 679726 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:47AM (#16182509)
    As a former broadcaster and a licensed amateur radio operator I know there is a legal route these 'Freedom Fighters' could take if they weren't so busy making martyrs of themselves. There is a community broadcast for education license that can be had for next to nothing if not for free. It is for the FM broadcast band and is for limited power but that power with a decent antenna can cover a square mile or so. Equipment is cheap and you could put up a group for coverage.

    The airwaves are a community resource. The FCC was created to control and parcel out the use of the radio spectrum for the best use by the community. Having said that, I know that big money is now involved in braodcast and frequency allocation - amateurs are having to fight off big money interests all the time. However the possibility to cause harm with poorly made and engineered equipment is more likely to create anger than sympathy.

    If these people want a voice, take it to the internet. Streaming audio and video using the same studio equipment is possible and if the message has validity the word will spread. The technology is mature and anyone with broadband can do it. It's not as dramatic as getting arrrested and fined and your 'cause' getting press time I guess.

  • MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:55AM (#16182555) Homepage
    The pirates should fight for a "pirate" range in the FM spectrum where unlicensed transmitters van freely broadcast. Problem solved.

    Wow. I thought your post would be redundant, but apparently it's the only one that makes this proposal so far. All of this crap about "sticking it to the man"... the problem is that there are a bunch of people who want to set up low-power FM radio stations that anybody with an FM radio in the area will be able to listen to. Give them a chunk of the spectrum, set some reasonable power limits (perhaps based on the population density of the area) and be done with it. Problem solved, as you say.

  • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:55AM (#16182557) Homepage Journal
    Alternately, they could just pick an unused FM frequency in their area; it's not like it's terribly hard to do. With the exception of a few saturated markets, almost any major area is probably going to have some free spots on the dial where, if you wanted to set up shop as a pirate station without interfering with anyone, you could.

    Or heck, why use FM? Practically any radio these days that can get FM also can receive AM, even if people rarely use it; consequently most places have vast regions of the AM broadcast band unused. (Although, you'd need to watch your power levels at night...)

    Then the complaint-driven nature of the FCC would work for you: no harm, no foul. As long as you don't step on the toes of somebody who actually has a license, they're probably not going to give a crap.

    Having dealt with the FCC before, I can tell you it's hard enough getting them to do anything when there's clear interference to an established, licensed radio service; if there wasn't any interference it would probably take them a long time to send out one of their investigators and track you down.

    With that said, I don't advocate unlicensed radio in the FM band; there are better mediums to disseminate your message if you really have one to communicate, than FM radio. The "pirate radio" of the 60s in today's world would probably be on the Internet, where you don't have to worry about the FCC.
  • Re:Rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by figment ( 22844 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:01AM (#16182581)
    While it is artificial there is a really good reason on why FM licensing is there.

    There's only a fixed amount of spectrum out there, and the licensing allows it to be allocated in a fairly efficient manner. If you do not do this, then anybody can blowup anybody else's transmission, and you're left with no reasonable programming (or cellphones for that matter, or satellite tv) at all.

    Now while the barriers to creating a ratio station are quite expensive, the fact is that just about everyone would rather have some mediocre programming (what we have currently) over unabashed chaos that would happen otherwise. There are open bands of spectrum where you can do whatever you want with it, so it's not like it's a massive government conspiracy to keep the man down.
  • Why federal? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <> on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:06AM (#16182597) Homepage
    The story takes the angle of the little guy bravely battling against unfeeling big government. And that's surely how pirate operators and their listeners see it. But if the range of your FM transmitter is only a few miles, why is it a federal matter? These frequency bands should be left to the states to allocate as they wish.
  • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:18AM (#16182659) Journal
    I agree that purposefully flooding the airwaves with interfering crap isn't a great idea, but someone needs to do something about the FCC. Do you realize that over-the-air broadcasts (both TV and radio) are pretty much the only forms of mass communication in the USA that are still subject to draconian censorship? I can say "fuck" out loud, in a book, in a movie, on a CD, on the internet, over the phone, but heaven forbid I say it over the airwaves! Ditto for nudity. I have Sirius satellite radio and on the hard rock stations I listen to not only do they not censor their music, but their DJs cuss regularly. It's clear that the vast majority of their fanbase does not, ahem, give a flying fuck. On TV, the situation is even more ridiculous because parents have access to the V-chip.

    The FCC should not be in the business of censorship, period. The founding fathers explicitly gave us freedom of the press, and if they had known about radio waves they would have deemed those be free of censorship as well. The FCC has far overstepped its bounds (especially post-"wardrobe malfunction"), and if this is the only way to draw attention to the issue, so be it. I can only hope that these people operate their pirate radio stations in a responsible manner, on unused areas of the spectrum and at reasonable power levels. Provided they act responsibly, there's nothing wrong with breaking this law; indeed, I say that it needs breaking, it needs civil disobediance because it's a very ugly, glaring flaw splattered across one of the few freedoms the USA has actually protected quite well--better than most other Western nations, at least. (And before anyone starts ranting about how they allow nudity on British/French/German/Dutch/Australian broadcast TV, realize that more than a few movies and videogames have been outright banned in ALL of those countries. Other than child pornography and to a lesser extent beastiality, there's practically nothing you can't legally see/read/buy in America.)

    Oh yeah, and the ownership rule relaxation is bullshit as well. It's not right that Clearchannel gets a government-approved (and protected) monopoly over half the fucking spectrum.
  • I can go from one end of the country to the other, listening to the same music with little if any regional variation, or for that matter care for regional issues or concerns.

    This would be a more interesting point if not for the fact that based on the success of satellite radio, it would seem as though this is exactly what a large number of people want.

    People don't want "regional variation," they want consistency. They want to be able to drive from Boston to Washington and still have the exact same palette of stations available, and they want them on all the time.

    You may certainly disagree (and I'm with you), but both the current state of broadcast radio, as demonstrated by XM and Sirius (so it's not even some giant ClearChannel conspiracy), and historical indicators from other markets show that you're in the minority.

    People don't want the "local roadhouse," they want McDonalds. They don't want Jack and Jill's Country Inn, they want Motel 6. They don't want the General Store, they want WalMart. Over and over the market has shunned independents -- even when they had a huge advantage to begin with -- in favor of consistent national chains; with the public only developing a nostalgia for the 'local flavor' after it was mostly gone. But regardless of their stated feelings, the public has over and over voted with their feet and their wallets.

    Frankly I think it's surprising that independent radio stations have remained as long as they have, and that 'networking' (in the manner of VHF TV stations) didn't happen sooner. With more competition from consistent, branded satellite networks (and perhaps in the future, content delivered by cell network, etc.) I think in the future we can expect to see more consolidation of terrestrial FM stations into various "channels" that a person can listen to from one coast to the other. Either that, or it will lose its relevance as a mass communications channel and become more like the UHF TV band is today.
  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @06:32AM (#16182951) Homepage Journal
    The problem with CB radio is it uses a very long wavelength, requiring long antennas for an efficient transmission. It would be nice to have the 460MHz FRS, 2.4GHz, and 5GHz spectrum much wider so communities can freely hack more uses for them. The public spaces are so crowded and freedom to explore the potential is often limited.
  • Re:Rights? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @06:58AM (#16183053) Homepage
    As long as it's on the Southern border, you've got me convinced.
  • Unfortunately.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @08:19AM (#16183521)
    It was eventually coopted and became the monolithic voice of corporate america instead of a medium of expressing thoughts, opinions and art. That applies to both FM Radio and the government itself.
  • Re:why (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sandman_eh ( 620148 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @08:19AM (#16183525) Homepage
    Seriously, who would these people be talking to on emergency vehicle frequencies?

    You are aware the effect of non-linear Amplifiers on a signal spectrum right?

    The point is you have to be careful when you design your RF power-amp not in introduce any non-linearities as it can mean you generate noise on frequencies well outside those in the input signal.

  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @09:01AM (#16183907) Journal
    If you go into a public park on a nice summer day, set up a concert quality sound system (read: very loud, but not that good...) and proceed to shout, "Fuck!" into the microphone so everyone in the park is assaulted by your curse-wording antics, I'm pretty sure you'll be asked to leave (and maybe fined or even arrested.)

    Further, you should be asked to leave at the very least. You would be destroying everyone else's enjoyment of a public resource for your own personal interest.

    Now, if on the other hand, you want to use your system to play live jazz music or somesuch, you probably still can't just go ahead and do it; someone else might want to play classical piano or something, the dissonance would certainly also be detrimental to others' enjoyment of the park. So you'd go and get a permit. A permit that's not a blanket permission to do whatever you want, but grants you some of the permissions you request in an attempt to satisfy as many people's interest in the space as possible.

    Radio spectrum is just like that public park. It's a finite (really finite) []* resource that a lot of people want to use. And that is the FCC's job: to allocate that resource in the way that best serves the public.

    And anyway, it's not like you can't say your precious cussword over any part of the spectrum, you can use it as much as you want over your cell-phone, C-band television feed, "satellite radio," and a few other bands, much like you could do the same in a clearing way out in the woods, far from most of civilization. But yes, swearing loudly in a small public space should be regulated, and if the FCC doesn't have the constitutional authority to do so, then we should have a constitutional convention and create an authority which can.
  • FCC (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, 2006 @09:08AM (#16183967)
    Smart pirates only use frequencies that aren't used in their surrounding areas. This way nobody complains and nobody cares for years. Only time the FCC will chase someone down is after a complaint or 40 have been filed for any sort of "public infraction". Meaning swearing, rebroadcasting someone elses programming, etc. Do nothing to get yourself in trouble, people will just think you're a new radio station in town.

    OTOH, it is kinda fun to put the pirate on a very well known frequency and scare the crap out of people. Actually, there was a legal pirate (yes, i know that doesn't make sense, but hear me out) in the Twin Cities. B96 96.3 (KTTB-Glencoe) is the local hiphop/urban station in town, but barely. It's a rimshot 100kW outside minneapolis. KDWB 101.3 (Richfield 100kW) applied and won(!!) a translator on 96.3FM in the southeastern metro area. KDWB is the local top40, not so much hiphop, but they do play similar playlists... Now is this piracy? No. They played by the book.

    Talk about how useful the FCC is. They don't even check for adjacent channels before issuing licenses. Also, the FCC did issue the call letters KUNT (Univ. North Texas) once upon a time. They recinded them within 24 hours. But, there is KUMM (Univ. Minnesota-Morris) is still on the air...

    FCC. Go figure.
  • Re:why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zigurd ( 3528 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @09:12AM (#16184023) Homepage
    The "FCC as a bulwark against anarchy" argument is oversold, if only for the fact that spectrum allocation is a terribly inefficient way to share spectrum.

    Then there is the fact that the FCC is an unelected bureaucratic exception to the First Amendment. Not only is the exception legally iffy, the FCC is insulated from answering to the public.

    Then there is the way that spectrum has become an artificial kind of property, which leads to political favoritism in the way it is allocated, traded, paid for, and regulated.

    There are a lot of reasons to think the FCC is in need of radical overhaul, and one should be very reluctant to dismiss people calling for reform without any evidence they are causing any harm.
  • by thorkyl ( 739500 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @09:34AM (#16184267)
    I do have a Sirius Radio in my truck; I only use it when I am on the road and in areas where there is poor coverage from FM stations. Other than that I listen to one of the two college radio stations or to the local Pacifica station.

    The great thing about community radio stations:

    1 - They don't play the same songs over and over and over and over and over and over.
                  I can actually set my clock by what commercial or song plays at what time on the
                  local muddy channel station

    2 - Local events and news
                Does your national station tell you about the blood drive this weekend or how the
                local High School football team did?

    3 - Call your local community radio station, ask them a question about anything and
                  ask them to present it to the listeners. By the end of the hour you will have an answer
                  Do that with your muddy channel station, if its not national, or on xyz car dealers list
                  of acceptable topics then you will never even hear a mention of it.

    4 - I love it when the national stations broadcast the traffic report for a different city here
                by accident and then tell you that they are your home town station.
  • by stealie72 ( 246899 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:19AM (#16184777)
    You've sort of learned the wrong lesson from Satellite. People want to listen to what they like. They're not concerned about local variants or national consistency.

    Unless you happen to like today's hott jams, today's hot country, your listen at work station, or the hottest RAWK in (your town here), you've got nothing to listen to on FM. Unless you like preachers, political ranters, or fools talking about sports all day, you've got nothing to listen to on AM.

    Hence, satellite radio. If I lived in a place where I could get the same variety as the 30 stations that are programmed into my XM unit, I'd cancel my subscription in a second. Plus, I like to hear my DJs say fuck once in a while.

    Most pirate radio that I've heard is rather uninteresting. Pirate play their favorite artist (who is disproportionately Zappa), or rant on their favorite topic. The truly insane pirates broadcast on shortwave anyways.
  • by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:36AM (#16185029) Homepage Journal

    I think you have confused censorship with censureship. The former is the prohibition of expression, while the latter is merely removal of something the people don't want.

    For example, prohibiting talk show hosts from criticizing the President would be censorship. OTOH, prohibiting a talk show host from criticizing the President using foul language is not. While you might not agree with them, the majority of the people in this country do not want to hear foul language on the radio, or see nudity on TV.

    I know its probably hard to imagine having kids, being a slashdotter and all (cue William Shatner at trekkie convention: "Have you ever kissed a girl..."). However, most people do at some point have children, and the last thing they want is to hear their toddler repeating "fuck, fuck, fuckety-fuck..." because they heard it on the radio. Or somewhat worse, having their daughters go bulimic on them because they're trying to look like some bare-chested floozy they saw on tv.

    The airwaves are a public medium. They belong to the people. As such, they should be used in a way which benefits all of the public, not just a certain subset who feel that foul language and nudity are desirable. Granted, such broadcasts might not include everything you'd like to see or hear, but at least they don't offend a large portion of the viewers/listeners.

    One final point for discussion: If the Left can tell us that religion should be a private thing, can't the Right tell the us that obscenity and indecency should be private as well? I mean, if the Gospel of Jesus Christ is "offensive" because it disturbs someone else's worldview, then wouldn't vulgar speech and nudity be just as "offensive"? After all, it too disturbs someone's worldview.

  • Re:Dupe. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by letxa2000 ( 215841 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:58AM (#16185383)
    What exactly is the point of overwhelming the FCC on this particular issue? I'm pretty fond of driving across town with my radio tuned to a single station and being able to hear that station clearly without it being stomped by a dozen illegal stations on some ilconceived crusade. There is a reason why anarchy isn't our choice of government, and those same reasons are why anarchy of the airwaves is no better than any other anarchy.

  • Re:Rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@yahF ... m minus language> on Monday September 25, 2006 @11:17AM (#16185673)
    he realist in me says the FCC is chasing them because commercial radio pushes them to.

    No, the FCC is chasing them because radio is and has always been the primary means of conveying emergency information. Television is a lot less reliable on both ends (though that's one of the main reasons the FCC regulates the television spectrum too).

    Commercial radio stations have legal requirements for broadcasting emergency signals. Pirate radio stations obviously do not. It is literally a matter of public safety.

    And if you don't believe it, ask any New Yorker that lived through 9/11 and the blackout 2 years ago. Most local TV stations were initially knocked off the air on 9/11, and during the blackout there was no TV at all. Everybody got their info by radio. (It's not just information, either - the Emergency Alert System is an automated system triggered by the signals sent over radio and TV.)

    There are good reasons why these frequencies are regulated, and they have nothing to do with money. I hope the FCC continues to diligently go after pirate radio - in this case, regulation is a necessary thing.

    If people want to set up their own radio station, it's easy enough to do it on the internet without running afoul of any laws. Heck, they'd probably get a lot more listeners that way, and reach a global audience. That they continue to try to flout the law in the face of a legal and better alternative suggests to me that they are intentionally breaking the law for the sake of breaking the law. As such, when they're caught I would hope they have that law thrown back in their faces to the fullest extent possible.
  • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @11:19AM (#16185699)
    The commercial radio stations that play music we don't like, and shove commercials down the ears of listeners, AND screw payola out of artists... also do pay their licensing fees to the people of the United States.

    I would rather they didn't pay a licensing fee. Having a FCC license has become just another type of property, rather than the temporary right to exclusive use of a public space that it should be seen as. Having this become yet another government slush fund has skewed and corrupted the system with government more concerned about getting its license fees than other considerations. If there was no fee, then the FCC would be more likely to consider the service that station was providing to the community rather than just whether or not the company could write a big check.

    Spectrum is too valuable to sell.

  • Re:Dupe. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by weierstrass ( 669421 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @11:50AM (#16186207) Homepage Journal
    >There is a reason why anarchy isn't our choice of government

    yes, that the govt would not allow us to make such a choice
  • by faedle ( 114018 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @11:55AM (#16186263) Homepage Journal
    The vast majority of "pirate radio stations" are not interfering with licensed stations legitimately serving a particular market. In fact, a 10 watt transmitter like most of Dunifer's does not simply have the power to overpower a 100kW Class C FM station. In most of Los Angeles, where the only available slot was 104.7 MHz, it was not uncommon for a 50 watt station I was affiliated with to have problems with a station 50 miles away "interfering" on the same frequency. Were we causing "problems" for that station and their listeners? Hell, no.

    Almost without exception, pirates are choosing frequencies that are not used locally, and operating stations that never exceed much more than 50 watts (most of them are in the 5-10 watt range). I can count on one hand the pirates who have even the technical competance to keep a high-power transmitter on the air, let alone actually own one.

    Your analogy is not even correct. It is more likely to say that people are in a big outdoor auditorium, where the speaker is using a professional PA system, and the pirate radio operator has collected a bunch of his friends on a lawn near the back and is talking to them at a normal speaking volume.

    An even better question is this. The "popularity" of unlicensed FM is only increasing. Isn't this an interesting sign to the professional broadcasters that there is a market segment they are not appealing to? Why are they not serving this market segment? Could it be that as a near-monopoly, they can ignore market forces?

    There should be a broadcast spectrum that belongs to everybody. There isn't. That needs to change.
  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @01:44PM (#16187773)
    As a former broadcaster and a licensed amateur radio operator I know there is a legal route these 'Freedom Fighters' could take if they weren't so busy making martyrs of themselves. There is a community broadcast for education license that can be had for next to nothing if not for free. It is for the FM broadcast band and is for limited power but that power with a decent antenna can cover a square mile or so. Equipment is cheap and you could put up a group for coverage.

    I'm Anchorage, Alaska. It's the 100th largest broadcast area or so. About a year ago, I contacted the FCC about this, and was told that there was no available spectrum for this. So, since the 100th largest broadcast area (less than 300,000 people) is too full of licensed users to allow this to happen, I would guess that this is something that is available on paper only. What's the point of these great legal routes open to us when they are not actually available for our use?
  • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:45PM (#16191957) Journal
    How the hell did this BS get modded up to +5? A park is a physical place, and its primary purpose is not for listening to music (or political rantings, or shock jocks, etc.) Yes, there's a good argument for laws against noise pollution in a public park. On the other hand, if you choose to tune into a very left-wing, hard rock station geared towards the younger crowd, that's your own damn choice. If you don't like the cussing then oh well, tune to something else. FM, AM and TV is FULL of (what I consider to be) hate speech--they call it "religious progamming"--but I don't complain because no one is FORCING me to listen to it. Your argument is completely absurd--different stations are by definition meant to cater to different tastes. My own tastes exclude the vast majority of programming on TV and on the radio, but that doesn't give me the right to tune to a channel I don't like and then say that we should change it because I don't like it.

    And as I mentioned before, it's not like the majority of the public wants this type of censorship. If for-profit satellite radio companies like Sirius and XM thought they would lose money by airing uncensored songs, do you think they'd do it? Ditto for premium cable channels. When TV and radio stations are not FORCED to self-censor, they almost never self-censor (at best they self-censor only a portion of their channels, e.g. "family" channels), so I cannot see how you can argue that the FCC is only reflecting public desire--it's clear to anyone with half a brain that the public desires access to mature, uncensored programming.

    But yes, swearing loudly in a small public space should be regulated, and if the FCC doesn't have the constitutional authority to do so, then we should have a constitutional convention and create an authority which can.

    So swearing is the only thing that should be regulated, hmm? Hate speech is ok, personal attacks are ok, misinformation and logical fallacies and outright lies are ok, but god forbid I say the word "fuck"? You, sir, have one fucked-up system of priorities.

    Music is art and when you censor a song like, say, Korn's Faget, you render it a shallow, laughable parody of itself... as if you took a picture of the Venus de Milo and obscured all but her face in the name of puritanism.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"