Statement of REC Networks: Cesar Guel FCC Letter of Inquiry

On February 24, 2014, the FCC sent a Letter of Inquiry to Antonio Cesar Guel.  The Media Bureau is "investigating potential statuatory and rule violations and related instances of potential misrepresentation and and/or lack of candor" in connection with 14 applications in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nevada, Indiana and Texas.  

On December 2, REC had filed an Informal Objection against 246 applications where each application had identitcal educational statements and many organization names followed one of a few different naming schemes.  Despite the claims made by Guel's attorney, our filing was informal in nature and followed the FCC rules for such filings.  The ability to file informal objections exists so members of the general public who normally would not use attorneys to correspond with the FCC can make their opinion known about the use of broadcast spectrum.  Remember, it is the general public that owns the spectrum.  Broadcast licensees (no matter how big or small) are entrusted to serve the public interest in their use of a portion of that spectrum.  

When Bill Kennard spearheaded the LPFM service in the late 90s, it was done during a time when broadcasting was losing its local flavor, both in the commercial and non-commercial bands.  Organizations like Prometheus Radio Project, Amherst Alliance and REC fought hard in those early days to assure that LPFM be limited to local applicants.  Through the hard work of Prometheus, the "two-year" rule was dropped and LPFM applicants had to be local no matter what.  When Congress passed the Local Community Radio Act of 2010, it was passed under the impression that all of these new LPFM stations would bring a new breed of local secular and faith-based voices to local communities.  

During the first window, there were speculators such as the late Lyle Evans and his Catholic church "educational association" applications that were intended to carry EWTN, a broadcast network available through other methods including over the air in some locations.  Even Cesar Guel was involved in about a dozen LPFM applications.  Some of which were questionable and REC fought them and was successful. Broadcast localism was further given a slap in the face with the outcome of the Auction 83 FM translator window (which we coined as "The Great Translator Invasion").

During this proceeding, I have been accused of filing these informal objections to protect paid clients of REC.  I have been accused of being a racist and even suggested that I might be the Antichrist.  REC filed the informal objection for one reason, to protect the integrity of the LPFM service.  REC, along with our many allied advocacy groups across the country have been working hard to assure that local groups that would otherwise be very far out of reach to any kind of over the air broadcasting would have a chance to be heard.  Keep in mind, REC only lit the match, it was the many in the local communities in places like Ohio, Arizona and New Mexico who hit the streets and did their own investigations about the claims made on the applications and taking the time to present their findings to the FCC.   Some of these people did not even have competing applications or were otherwise impacted by the potential grant of a Guel application, but they cared about the integrity of the LPFM service and making sure that every qualified group would have an equal chance of obtaining a license.  They are the true heroes.

Our only hope at this time is that the FCC act on these applications as quickly as possible as they will impact the standing of the other pending applications.  In Los Angeles, pending Guel singleton applications are holding up two prime channels that can be used as a "bail-out" for applicants in the 101.5 MegaGroup and other channels. In other markets, these applicants are holding back singletons as well as blocking potential "bail-out" channels for MX groups.  

Our filing of the objection was not influenced by profit but by integrity.  Citizens are the eyes and ears for the FCC.  The FCC works for us and they depend on us to alert them to potential issues.  LPFM does not belong to the big corporations, even the  big non-commercial corporations.  It belongs to citizens and residents of our great nation.  It's only a small piece of the pie but REC and the other advocates will do everything we can to defend every morsel of it.

Michelle (Michi) Bradley
founder, REC Networks

FCC Letter of Inquiry to Antonio Cesar Guel