Beasley Goes After Tampa LPFM For Competing Against Them
Beasley’s argument states that WVVF-LP is “operating in a manner inconsistent with the requirement that Low Power FMs be used for the advancement of an educational program” and requested that the station be shut down until it complies with FCC requirements. Beasley goes on to claim that the “Latin Classic Hits” format of WVVF-LP is competing with commercial stations in the Tampa market, specifically their Spanish CHR “Maxima 92.5” WYUU Safety Harbor.
Claiming that WVVF-LP’s original application pledged to provide “broadcast services to the Hispanic arts community to support arts programming that matches area youth with established artists”, Beasley goes on to list the types of programming WVVF-LP stated it was going to run such as live poetry and short story reading, educational cultural programs, local history, and political/civic participation. It then attacks the station for branding itself as “Viva FM”, which in their mind is “mimicking the type of branding employed by other commercial Spanish popular music stations”. They also argue that WVVF-LP is promoting itself as an “alternative” to existing commercial Spanish language stations and for distributing a Media Kit.
The complaint to the FCC was written and signed by WYUU Program Director Neil Fernandez.
LPFM advocates REC Networks released the following statement in regards to Beasley’s filing:
REC joins with other LPFM advocates in admonishing Beasley Media Group in their attack on a new LPFM station. As a new LPFM station, the station should never be expected to come out of the box with their full format and services. These things take time. Regardless of the content the station ends up programming, the First Amendment precludes the FCC from taking action on entertainment format. The Commission only has the authority to take action on unprotected forms of speech such as commercial content and indecent material outside the designated safe-harbor hours.
With Beasley having the only Spanish station in the market pulling numbers, the Hispanic population of Tampa-St. Petersburg deserve a choice.
If WVVF-LP starts airing commercials or indecent programming outside safe-harbor, then Beasley has a valid complaint. Unless those things happen (which we hope do not happen), REC concurs with LPFM.AG and we urge that Beasley withdraw this frivolous complaint against WVVF-LP.
INSTANT INSIGHT:Where to begin?
There is NO WAY that the FCC gets involved in this as the argument is built around a station’s programming and the agency does not get involved in programming matters. Doing so here will establish the opportunity for dozens if not hundreds of LPFMs to come under attack from commercial operators.
And how bad does this make Beasley look? WYUU is the dominant Spanish language station in the Tampa market with a 2.9 share in the July 2015 Nielsen Audio ratings. If a 50kW station is threatened by a 7 watt non-commercial station they should look closer at the programming and sales staff of said station. WYUU comes across as a bully that cannot handle competition of any kind.
And giving benefit of the doubt that perhaps Neil Fernandez went into business for himself and filed this complaint against WVVF-LP without the company’s knowledge, he needs to be let go at once. He’s made his employer look foolish and placed them in a no-win situation that will cost them lots of money with lawyers and potentially lost revenue.