Story last updated at 1:20 p.m. Saturday, August 31, 2002

Injunction silences radio stations
by Phil Hermanek
Morris News Service-Alaska

Operations at seven FM radio translator stations serving the Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak were suspended beginning Wednesday, in compliance with a temporary injunction requested by the Federal Communications Commission.

Affected stations include K-WAVE FM 104.5 and FM 104.9, serving Kenai and Soldotna; K-WAVE FM 104.9 and KPEN FM 102.7, serving Kodiak; and KPEN stations FM 99.3, serving Anchor Point and Seldovia, FM 102.3, serving Homer, and FM 100.9, serving Kachemak City. K-WAVE FM 103.5, serving the south and central peninsula, will remain on the air.

In a statement from station owner Peninsula Communications Inc. of Homer, company president David Becker said the firm will comply with the injunction issued by the Alaska District Court, "although PCI believes it has the right to remain on the air."

The issue stems from a 1994 FCC rule change that ordered radio stations across the country to turn off repeater stations, called translators, that are outside the coverage area of their parent station's signal.

Becker, who said he pioneered radio service to many of the affected areas in 1979, said he believes his translators are "grandfathered in" and allowed by a clause in the regulations that he said exempted translators in Alaska.

"When the FCC tightened the restrictions in 1994, on who could have translators where, Alaska was exempted from that decision," Becker said Monday. "Now the FCC is ignoring that footnote."

In May 2001, Becker's company chose to defy an FCC order to shutdown the translator stations, filing an appeal to the order in June 2001, questioning the legality of the order.

"It's amazing to me that you can get an injunction forcing this action when the underlying legality has not been determined," Becker said.

He also said he was looking at a lawsuit against the government for all the revenue he'd be losing while off the air and for the damage to his reputation.

"We're going to be seeking damages," he said.

Explaining last year's defiance of the FCC order, Becker said he found himself in a "Catch-22" situation.

"If I stopped broadcasting, my radio station licenses would be considered inactive and would expire in 12 months," he said. "I chose to continue operating while the court reviewed my appeal and keep my licenses active."

In a separate action, Becker has been ordered to a station-license revocation hearing in Washington, D.C., in September.

Becker said he plans to appeal any revocation decision as well.

Unaffected are Peninsula Communications' full-service radio stations KPEN, KXBA, KWVV and KGTL. KGTL is an AM station.

While the translator stations are off the air, Becker said KGTL AM 620 will broadcast simultaneously with KPEN. Listeners, particularly in the south peninsula area, will be able to hear the country-music format and the popular Rush Limbaugh broadcasts on AM radio.

"We pioneered first time FM service to the majority of Southcentral Alaska over 20 years ago. The FCC obviously does not care about the listening public by attempting to force these stations off the air," Becker said in a company statement.

Phil Hermanek is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.

CONTACT US

  • 3482 Landings St.
  • (907) 235-7767
  •  Fax: (907) 235-6571
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES