Thursday, September 06, 2007

INCOMING: Multi-State Media Conglomerate Tramples Community Radio

Multi-State Media Conglomerate Tramples Community Radio

KLKA proposes move from Globe to Casa Grande

Secret payout kept from public

Move will result in 600% power increase, change in frequency, and no local broadcasting. If approved, will shut out all locally controlled community radio in Central Arizona and the East Valley.

American Educational Broadcasting (AEB) is a Florida corporation with its headquarters in Las Vegas. It owns many stations across the country, and its directors have controlling interests in many other stations. Among the stations which AEB owns is KVLT in Temple, Texas.

In 1996, AEB requested a construction permit for a 1.4 kilowatt station in Globe. This was a relatively small station, and covered Globe, Superior, and Miami. The application requested a frequency of 88.5 FM under the claim that the station was a “educational” station” like KJZZ, KXCI, or KBAQ.

The application was approved in 2005, and then it just sat there. No station was ever built, no license was ever granted, but the construction permit successfully kept other community based educational radio stations from developing in Globe.

For many years, federal law required that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which authorizes construction permits and grants licenses, could not approve a station application unless the station had a studio in its city of license and most of its programming had to be local. This requirement was to make sure that national networks and conglomerates did not completely devour local stations. But the federal law changed, to allow stations to act as satellites for out-of-state stations, to become what radio broadcasters called “translators on steroids.”

The FCC also began a process of granting what it called “minor modifications,” that is, small changes in a station’s construction permit or license which would allow it to operate more effectively. The problem with the minor modification rule is that very little public notice is required, most people in the affected area have no idea that the modification has been requested, and there is no formal procedure for opposing a minor modification request. The minor modification rule allowed multi-state media conglomerates to skulk around under cover and change small stations like KLKA into “Big Foot” media giants.

That’s exactly what happened here. In 2006, American Educational Broadcasting requested a “minor change” for KLKA to allow it to just re-broadcast programs from KVLT in Texas. So much for local control. “By the way,” AEB said, “the public file that every station is required to maintain so that local people can check up on their local station, we’ll put that local public file in Temple, Texas, but don’t worry, folks, we’ll give you a toll free number to call if you want information.” No one was paying much attention, so no one opposed it, and the minor modification was granted.

About a year ago, the FCC announced that for the first time in eight years, it was going to open up an opportunity for local organizations to apply for educational radio construction permits and licenses. Central and southern Arizona community groups saw this as the last opportunity to bring real community based radio to their regions.

There was an open frequency in Pinal County which would have allowed a locally controlled educational station to apply for a station Local organizations were preparing their applications when Big Foot stepped in and crushed their plans.

Big Foot

Many organizations had requested that the FCC put a freeze on further minor modifications until the new filing window (which was only five days long) closed so that the mega-media conglomerates wouldn’t try to squeeze out local groups that wanted real community radio. “That sounds pretty reasonable,” said the FCC on August 8, “we’ll freeze all minor change applications after September 9.” Of course, the multi-state conglomerates knew what the FCC was saying, “Get your minor modifications in while you can.”

And that’s exactly what they did. The ink was barely dry on the FCC’s freeze announcement when American Educational Broadcasting filed for a “minor modification” which moved KLKA from Globe to Casa Grande, right in the middle of the open frequency, and which increased its power from a puny 1.4 kilowatts to a whopping 83 kilowatts. For comparison, KBAQ is only 12.5 kilowatts. Not only that, but AEB also wanted the FCC to continue to allow them to just rebroadcast from Texas, and by the way, keep those public files down in Texas too.

But AEB had problems, like the fact that other stations already occupied some of the space that KLKA wanted. So AEB worked out a deal. One station, KZAI, owned by Educational Media Foundation, was in Coolidge, and broadcast at 10 Kw. It agreed to reduce its power to 8 Kw. KAIC, also owned by Educational Media Foundation, agreed to move off its 88.9 frequency, and move its 1.5 Kw station from Coolidge to Mammoth. And who did all this complex engineering? An engineer from Educational Media Foundation. Finally, if everyone agreed to this, then another station, KFLT, owned by Family Life Broadcasting, would agree to move to a new tower and reduce its power.

Of course, all of this switching and moving and reducing power wasn’t done merely from a sense of charity and grace – money changed hands as well. How much money? The 250,000 folks or so in KLVA’s new territory will never know, because AEB asked the FCC to seal the agreement and keep it secret. That agreement probably won’t be showing up in the public records book in Temple, Texas.

Still Time to Do Something

As of now, the FCC has not approved the “minor modifications” which will result in major changes for Big Foot and the destruction of any chance for real community radio in Central Arizona.

But there’s still time to save community radio in central Arizona. The FCC will listen to public opinion on these issues, and if you want to stop Big Foot, just copy the letter below and mail it to the FCC today. You can call the FCC toll free at 1-888-225-5322. You can send an e-mail to

Let us know at if we can help you and what you are doing. And thanks from every community member for trying to keep community radio alive in Arizona.

To: Federal Communications Commission From:

Consumer Affairs Bureau

445 12th Street, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20554

Re: Application for Minor Modification, No. BMPED-20070803ACY

KLKA, American Educational Broadcasting

Dear Commissioners:

I am a radio listener in Arizona. I have learned that KLKA has applied for minor modifications which will prevent real community based educational radio stations from being able to apply for a license in October, 2007. I support real community radio. I want you to deny the application of KLKA to move from Globe to Casa Grande and to reject their power increase request. This is not a minor modification; it is creating a new station. If AEB wants a new station, they should apply in October like everyone else.

Thank you for your consideration of this informal objection.


(Your Name)

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