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Victory for Micro Power Broadcasting
Historical Defeat for the FCC
On Friday, January 20, Federal judge Claudia Wilken refused to grant the Federal Communications Commission a preliminary injunction to stop the micro power broadcasts of Stephen Dunifer and Free Radio Berkeley. Stating serious constitutional concerns as her reason, Judge Wilken denied the request, ordered the FCC to exhaust administrative remedies and to rule on Dunifer's appeal of their $20,000 fine before seeking any further court action. This ruling sets a historical precedent: it is the first time the FCC has been denied an injunction to stop the broadcasts of an unlicensed radio station. The Commission will have to address the issue of the constitutionality of their regulations when ruling on Dunifer's appeal. Any further court proceedings are delayed until the FCC acts on the appeal which has languished in Washington for more than a year. In the meantime the government's attempt to enjoin broadcasting by non- licensed micro radio has been put on hold.
Luke Hiken, attorney for Stephen Dunifer, stated, "This is the second time a Federal court has recognized the constitutional implications of micro radio technology. We hope the FCC will recognize the importance of facilitating the use of this technology for the benefit of the American people instead of denying its existence and obstructing its use."
Speaking on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild Committee on Democratic Communications, Peter Franck commented, "The CDC hopes that the court's refusal to enjoin micro radio is the beginning of a recognition by the country that any hope for democracy depends on free access to the airwaves. Micro power broadcasting has the potential for creating a 'green movement' of low-cost, easy-to-use media. It is as totalitarian to require expensive, hard-to-get licenses for micro radio as it would be to say you can only speak from a soap box if it is made of gold."
Stephen Dunifer said, "Judge Claudia Wilken's decision affirms the validity of our legal position. Further, this victory is a credit to four years of work by the National Lawyers Guild Committee on Democratic Communications and my attorney, Luke Hiken, on behalf of the micro power broadcasting movement. Unlike FCC attorney, David Silberman, I do not see irreparable harm resulting from micro power broadcasting. Instead, I see an immeasurable benefit for all citizens if the micro power broadcast movement prevails. For too long, media access and the tools of communication have been concentrated in the hands of corporate and essentially anti- democratic interests. If any harm results, it will be to those monopoly interests."
For further information contact:
Free Radio Berkeley - (510) 644-3779, (510) 464-3041 or
Luke Hiken, attorney at law - (415) 705-6460.