A radio pirate has no grounds to challenge the order to shut down his low-power station because he did not apply for a license or waiver through the Federal Communications Commission, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
Stephen Dunifer, who operated "Radio Free Berkeley," said he will continue his crusade against broadcast conglomerates that drown out the real voices of American citizens.
Dunifer and other activists are asking supporters to set up low-power stations to begin broadcasting at the same time in a mass protest on the airwaves. He wants the protest to coincide with the Sept. 20 opening of a National Associated of Broadcasters meeting in San Francisco.
"The NAB is our major nemesis. They're the ones trying to stop the American public from the right to free speech," Dunifer said, referring to a bill before Congress that seeks to roll back the FCC's nascent program for low-power stations.
John Winston, assistant chief of the FCC's enforcement bureau, said the agency is pleased that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco affirmed its power to license broadcasters. The FCC says some of the pirate stations it has shut down interfered with licensed broadcasters and air traffic control systems.
Last year, the FCC - in part responding to the pirate radio movement - proposed starting a new, local radio service for churches, students and community groups. It would create thousands of licensed low-tech FM radio stations from 1 watt to 1,000 watts after a 20-year ban against such licenses.
The NAB and key congressional Republicans fear such entities would create interference to FM radio stations.