How Cross-Border Broadcasting Became Illegal

A look back at various radio stations

How Cross-Border Broadcasting Became Illegal

Postby jon » Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:29 pm

The Communications Act of 1934 was passed by the U.S. Congress. It included this clause:

No person shall be permitted to locate, use, or maintain a radio broadcast studio or other place or apparatus from which or whereby sound waves are converted into electrical energy, or mechanical or physical reproduction of sound waves produced, and caused to be transmitted or delivered to a radio station in a foreign country for the purpose of being broadcast from any radio station there having a power output of sufficient intensity and/or being so located geographically that its emissions may be received consistently in the United States, without first obtaining a permit from the Commission upon proper application therefor.

How this was ever interpreted to allow Wolfman Jack to have record tapes in his Hollywood studios and shipped across the border to XERB, I will never know. Someone undoubtedly got a good lawyer and won the case in Court.

The British Post Office enacted similar regulations to stop Radio Luxembourg from operating London studios, at least on a live basis. Which makes it come as no surprise that the CRTC has followed suit.

Oddly enough, as the CRTC is finally getting serious about eradicating cross-border broadcasting, the FCC has, in recent years, routinely been granting permission for U.S. broadcasters to broadcast live on XERB and other border stations. The only wrinkle for those U.S. broadcasters is that the FCC includes the Mexican stations in the ownership limit calculations.


Why did the U.S. government enact such legislation in the 1930s? A big clue comes from the fact that the legislation is more commonly known as The Brinkley Act.

Dr. John R. Brinkley lost his medical and broadcast licenses, and two elections for Governor, in Kansas, before deciding to build a station in Mexico that could be heard back in Kansas where his medical clinic was still being operated by two of his proteges. As FCC rules tightened on what could be broadcast, by 1932, Brinkley's station was joined by 10 other Mexican border stations that broadcast programming that the FCC had banned. By 1933, the Mexican government had licensed Brinkley's station to broadcast with one million watts, though it is not clear that a transmitter that powerful was ever run reliably at full power. Not that it was impossible, as WLW Cincinnati began broadcasting with 500,000 watts at about this time under a 5 year experimental license from the FCC.

The Mexican government was more than happy to help as a way to bring the U.S. to the bargaining table, which finally resulted in the great frequency shuffle of 1941, when Mexico finally got some Clear Channels of its own.
User avatar
jon
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 9094
Joined: Mon May 08, 2006 9:15 am
Location: Edmonton

Re: How Cross-Border Broadcasting Became Illegal

Postby Tape Splicer » Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:58 am

I wonder about stations such as KARI 550AM Blaine and KWPZ 106.5 FM Lyndon. If these stations broadcast religious programs from Canadian church groups, recorded in Canada - (financed totally by Canadian dollars - using a Canadian address for contacts ) - that are directed to the Metro Vancouver area; Are these stations or groups acting outside the broadcast acts of Canada or the U.S... Or are there exemptions in this category of programming?
Tape Splicer
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 788
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2011 3:45 pm

Re: How Cross-Border Broadcasting Became Illegal

Postby jon » Sat Nov 15, 2014 1:35 pm

The only current rules that I'm aware of that would stop Canadian organizations with a Charitable Tax status from airing an hour a week on a U.S. station that is directed to a Canadian audience, are ones enforced by the Canada Revenue Agency.

My information is not current, but about 20 years ago there were new Tax Rules put in place that prevented Canadian charities from sending money to the U.S. Violations put their Charitable Tax status in jeopardy. Charities who find themselves suddenly unable to issue tax receipts to donors have, historically, seen a huge drop in donations.

That is probably the only current law that could address the issue. Although I have not read the relevant part of the Broadcast Act, my understanding is that the issue involved with the three South Asian-programmed border stations is the effective control of those radio stations. Like Wolfman Jack did on XERB, they bought all of the broadcast week on 1110 (a daytimer), 1550 and 1600. The Broadcast Act views this as "running a radio station". An hour a week is more like syndicating a show, which is likely viewed very differently.
User avatar
jon
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 9094
Joined: Mon May 08, 2006 9:15 am
Location: Edmonton

Re: How Cross-Border Broadcasting Became Illegal

Postby RationalKeith » Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:01 pm

A claim was that Jack Smith and like broadcasters, aka Wolfman Jack, had to do gyrations in Mexico to operate there, including phoney ownership of a station.

One scam pulled against them was claiming their Sunday broadcasting was against Mexican culture, IIRC protestant vs Catholic.

Claim was that eventually Mexican squeezing made the operations unprofitable.

Smith wrote a book, I forget the name. Includes an interesting story about racial threats against a club he was involved in running.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfman_Jack
RationalKeith
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 119
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:57 am


Return to Radio Station History

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest