Sean Gilligan's Blog


More on Free Radio Santa Cruz and Pirate Radio

I didn't post much text explaining the situation, but several people have asked for it, so I'm taking a long lunch to write this post. I didn't originally do this for two reasons: 1) the focus of this blog is supposed to be video and 2) I really didn't know any background information or have the time to research it.

Free Radio Santa Cruz has been broadcasting illegally for about 10 years. I don't know what the ups and downs of their ongoing battles with the FCC have been, but yesterday the FCC did what only the government can legally do: sent in people with guns to achieve their objectives.

The FCC took their antenna, transmitter, computers, tape players, turntables, and I heard they were taking records, tapes, and CD's too. That's the stuff they're loading into the "undercover" camper-shell pickups that you can see in the slide show.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the situation. Being not very subversive myself, I think people should try to obey the law, even when it is stupid. Then you try to change it. 10 years is a pretty long run, after all. Alan from demandmedia is familiar with low power radio advocates and says, "Some have chosen civil disobedience (like Free Radio Santa Cruz), some have chosen to take on one of the most powerful lobby's in DC. I think they work together pretty well. Laws protecting civil rights don't get passed unless there are people [who] civilly disobey restrictions o[n] them." He says Prometheus Radio is the "premier grassroots lobbying group" for this cause. He also says there is a bill in congress that would allow FRSC to become legit.

I don't know the details of the technology and law for FM broadcasting, but I think the reasonable solution would be to change the law (or regulations) to allow micro-broadcasting under reasonable conditions. In this specific case, I don't think that FRSC (aka "Freak Radio") was hurting anyone (i.e. interfering with another signal.) The more I learn about this, the more it sounds like Prometheus should be unchained. I'd like to learn more about the "bill". I'll bet there will be some discussion at the upcoming Santa Cruz City Council meeting. (Not that it will do much good, as this is a federal issue.) Santa Cruz residents will recognize Mayor Scott Kennedy and Councilman Mark Primack in the slide show.

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