John at DIYmedia cites some research from REC networks that points to some nefarious hi-jinks going on with non-commercial FM translator licenses.
Looks like some of our old pals at Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls, Idaho–the Clear Channel of FM translators–are buying up recently acquired translator construction permits to add to their 358+ station empire of low-power satellite-driven Christian-clone stations.
Doing business as Reach Communications, they’re buying the permits from Edgewater Broadcasting and Radio Assist Ministries, which both made out like bandits in the most recent translator spectrum allocation proceding. Edgewater/RAM stand to make up to $800k in these sorts of deals.
Interestingly, Calvary Chapel seems to be awfully cozy with Edgewater, considering that a year ago the program director for CC’s radio network e-mailed me to forcefully assert that Calvary Chapel and it’s CSN radio network have absolutely nothing to do with Edgewater:
WE HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM. We did not file for them and we are not in contact with any of them. … One reason I think we have been lumped together is because we did have an employee who worked for us 3 years ago and he has started his own business. He has started Radio Assist Ministries, Edgewater Ministries and World Radio link.
Any why is this important?
Because translator stations use up precious frequencies that could go for low-power FM community stations that would broadcast programs directly by and for their local communities. Whereas translators, by design and FCC edict, may only broadcast programming from another station.
Thus, the likes of Calvary Chapel/CSN are abusing translators to build huge networks of low-power FM stations broadcasting the same right-wing Christian programming out of Twin Falls, ID.
In addition, it looks like Edgewater and perhaps other players in the non-commercial translator game might be profiting by hording licenses and reselling them to other outfits.
There’s still a lot of investigating to be done on this. John and I will both be posting more, and I hope to interview someone from REC Networks, which has been doing great research on the topic, on next radioshow, Friday, March 4.