The commission has also OK’d the license renewals of five Emmis stations in Indiana, despite a protest about indecent language and other objections from offended listener David Edward Smith.
The stations are WIBC(AM), WENS(FM), WYXB(FM), WWVR(FM) and WTHI(FM).
Smith said those applications should be denied because the stations had engaged in a pattern of willfully broadcasting indecent language. He said he had filed more than 60 complaints with the FCC regarding the program “Mancow’s Morning Madness” and cited past fines related to that program.
But those shows are barred from consideration by the terms of the consent decree between the FCC and Emmis under which the company agreed to institute compliance measures and pay $300,000. The broadcasts in question were aired before the effective date of the consent decree and thus the FCC can’t consider them under its terms.
An interesting twist is that Smith claims Emmis had abused the commission process by condoning a “SLAPP” lawsuit filed against him by Erich “Mancow” Muller in retaliation for filing the complaints. Smith wrote that the lawsuit was filed “in order to corruptly harass, intimidate and frighten potential witnesses to violations” of FCC rules. A SLAPP suit is one intended to silence a critic by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense.
The commission noted that it does not regulate non-broadcast activities of station personnel or announcers and said it has already considered and rejected the abuse of process arguments when it took part in the consent decree, finding that Emmis had no involvement in the lawsuit based on a sworn declaration submitted by the broadcaster.