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March 12, 2007
KFBK, KSTE - and the FCC

In July of 2005, six Northern California radio listeners challenged the license renewal for popular talk stations KFBK (1530 AM) and KSTE (650 AM) on the grounds of political bias.

The six - Brian Hassett of Meadow View, Roger and Irene Smith of Loomis, Millee Livingston of Auburn, Marilyn Jasper of Loomis, and Ed O'Hara (no city given) - charged that the Clear Channel stations' "prime-time talk-show programming amounts to the use of the airwaves as a relentless political pulpit, presenting only one-sided, predictable opinion on most issues, and even blatantly endorsing one political party.”

In other words, is airing conservative pundits such as Rush Limbaugh and Tom Sullivan (KFBK) and Armstrong & Getty, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly (KSTE) enough to revoke the stations' licenses?

Hardly.

The FCC today denied the challenge and renewed the stations' licenses. In a letter to the six objectors, the FCC wrote:

"The role of the commission in overseeing program content is limited. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 326 of the Act prohibit the commission from censoring program material or interfering with broadcasters’ free speech rights....

"We have evaluated the KFBK(AM) and KSTE(AM) license-renewal applications pursuant to Section 309(k) of the Act, and we find that each station has served the public interest, convenience and necessity during the subject license term; there have been no serious violations of the Act or the commission’s rules at either station; and there have been no other violations at either station which, taken together, constitute a pattern of abuse."

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