On Tuesday, it was Radio Avivamiento's turn in federal court in Hartford, as the 97.1 Spanish pirate fought the FCC's attempt to get an injunction preventing further broadcasts. The Hartford Courant reports the station's lawyer, Patrick Edwards, "cheerfully" admitted the station was breaking the law when it went on the air two years ago.
The station's owner, the Rev. Samuel A. Girona, tells the Courant he tried to buy a licensed station (WKND 1480 Windsor), but the purchase price of $750,000 was out of his range.
The FCC's lawyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Soloway, told judge Alvin Thompson that the law is clear, and requires the unlicensed station to be shut down.
Thompson did not issue a ruling at the hearing; a written decision will follow sometime soon.
Meanwhile in Waterbury, the FCC has been granted authority to shut down "Waterbury Hispanic Communications," an 88.5 pirate operated by one Efrain Gonzales. NERW hears the station is indeed off the air pending further legal action.
On the TV side in the Nutmeg State, Tribune Broadcasting has applied to the FCC for permission to buy WTXX (Channel 20) in Waterbury outright, converting the UPN station from its present LMA with Tribune's Hartford Fox affiliate, WTIC-TV (Channel 61).
There's been no LMA-to-duopoly application yet for WBNE (Channel 59) in New Haven, but NERW hears the WB affiliate is making plans to launch a newscast in the spring, produced in cooperation with LMA partner WTNH (Channel 8). The newscast would join the WTIC-TV/WTXX semi-simulcast in the 10 PM news race.
More on that WRNI application for 91.3 in Wakefield: We hear it may be directional to avoid interfering with WDOM in Providence, if such a thing is possible -- which suggests that it's what we'll call a "phony primary," one of those noncomm stations that doesn't really serve anyone but can be used to feed lots of translators. Stay tuned for the 1999 Year End Rant in a few weeks for more thoughts on the many and varied ways in which the translator rules are being abused...
Pirate watch: We're hearing about a 96.5 in Mansfield, going by the name "Comedy Radio 96.5."
Another inexplicable translator approval to report, this time in Syracuse: Family Life Radio has been granted 89.3 in Baldwinsville, just outside Syracuse. W207BH will run 4 watts from a tower on East Sorrell Hill Road (adjacent to I-690 north of the Thruway), relaying WCIY (88.9 Canandaigua). How the FCC approved this one, what with Syracuse University's WJPZ and Cayuga Community College's WDWN Auburn both operating on first-adjacent 89.1 within 15 miles of the proposed site, is hard to understand. (How Syracuse Community Radio missed out on this one is even harder to comprehend...)
While we're in the Syracuse area, we note that all three of Clear Channel's big competitors -- Pilot, Buckley, and Radio Corp. -- have asked the FCC to review Clear Channel's purchase of WHCD (106.9 Auburn) from Salt City Communications. While Clear Channel notes that it would remain under the ownership and revenue caps for Syracuse after the purchase, its competitors are concerned about the effects on the overall Syracuse-Ithaca-Utica regional market.
UPN viewers in the Albany area will soon have a new cable-only channel to watch, as Clear Channel's WXXA (Channel 23) spawns "WEDG" on cable channel 4, replacing the cable feed of Boston's WSBK. The new station is expected to sign on January 1, and will continue carrying the Bruins games now seen on WSBK. It's the end of an era for WSBK, which has been on cable in Albany since at least the early 1970s (and was, for a time, fed by microwave as far west as Rochester). NERW echoes Albany Times Union columnist Mark McGuire in suspecting some future cross-promotion between "WEDG-TV" and Clear Channel's "Edge" radio stations, WQBK-FM (103.9 Rensselaer) and WQBJ (103.5 Cobleskill). The loser here would seem to be WVBG-LP (Channel 25), the Albany LPTV that may end up losing its UPN affiliation.
We hear WFAF (106.3 Mount Kisco) began simulcasting WFAS-FM (103.9 White Plains) last weekend, albeit with no mention on-air of the simulcast.
The CBC has asked the CRTC for permission to lower the power of its CBCL (93.5 London) from 100 kilowatts to 69.3 kilowatts, presumably to reduce potential interference to the new 93.5 Toronto allocation. The CBC says Radio One listeners who may lose the London signal now have service from CBLA-1 (89.1 Paris) to replace it.
And the CRTC granted CHUM's CKWW (580), CIMX (88.7), and CIDR (93.9) in Windsor permission to run only 20% Canadian-content music, rather than the new 35% standard. The Commission has long treated Windsor a bit differently from the rest of Canada because of the huge numbers of Detroit signals just across the river, and this is no exception.
That's it for this quiet week; we'll see you again next Friday!