It’s time to act if you want to speak out for independent/college/free-form radio — namely, that at Rice University, where the students’ 50,000-watt radio station is in the process of being sold out from under them by a callous administration. As this post notes, on the Daily Cougar.com site of the University of Houston — the buyer of the station, already owner of an NPR station, KUHF — some 5,000 people have already signed a petition in an attempt to thwart the sale at the FCC. Other steps have already been taken:
KTRU’s student staff has retained the legal counsel of the Washington D.C.-based Paul Hastings Law Firm that handles a multitude of issues, some of which include mergers and acquisitions as well as telecommunication laws.
“The lawyers at Paul Hastings have taken on our case with a great deal of sympathy for our predicament,” KTRU station manager Joey Yang said. “I think that with their experience and knowledge they are well suited to handle the case.”
The case will be brought to the Federal Communications Commission for review as soon as the administration petitions for a transfer of the license.
When the petition is filed with the FCC, there will be a 30-day window for public input, then the FCC will decide whether a transfer of the license is in the best interest of the public and the community.
The University of Houston, also oblivious to the protest, plans on turning the existing NPR station into all-talk and to move classical music to the acquisition. As protesters charge, the classical music will then be broadcast on a station with half the power of KUHF, reaching a much smaller piece of Houston.
Writing on the Radio Survivor blog yesterday, Jennifer Waits put it this way:
Inherent in their argument is that it’s not in the public interest to sell an independently-run college radio station to a university that is planning to expand their public radio offerings with another station airing mostly syndicated programming.
It’s no secret that I’m disturbed by the trend of universities selling off their radio stations and I find it even more distressing when the buyers plan to air non-local syndicated programming.
Non-commercial educational radio licenses are increasingly owned by those with deeper pockets, primarily public radio groups and religious radio conglomerates. This landscape makes it even more challenging for local college radio stations to survive when there are willing suitors clamoring down administrators’ doors with offers of millions of dollars for an FM license.
I think it’s important for the FCC to hear that citizens are NOT in favor of consolidation on the left side of the radio dial, as we’ve certainly seen what a disaster that’s been on the commercial band. Here’s what you can do NOW:
…Thursday, December 2nd, is the last day that people within the Houston listening area can email letters directly to the FCC.
If you aren’t sure of the specifics to include in your letter, take a look at the sample letter on the Save KTRU website. Details on where to email letters and additional ways that you can help can be found at Save KTRU as well.
The Save KTRU website also details how you can contact your congressional representative. Act now!