It’s been a long fight for supporters of student radio station KTRU at Rice University, who don’t want to see their station sold off to University of Houston for use as another public radio outlet. Today was the final day for citizens to send letters of protest to the FCC (as part of the 30-day comment window) in regards to the station sale.
In addition to letters that Houston listeners sent directly to the FCC and members of Congress, the group Friends of KTRU also received more than 1,000 letters of protest and more than 5,000 people (from all over the world) signed KTRU’s online petition.
Friends of KTRU also filed an official “Petition to Deny“ (PDF) with the FCC. The 41-page petition outlines the ways in which the station sale would be detrimental to the Houston and Rice communities. According to the Petition to Deny, the loss of the Rice station will decrease the amount of local programming available on the Houston airwaves. The Petition argues,
“…the loss of KTRU will result in a substantial elimination of local programming…The proposed KUHF and KUHC stations…will merely result in an increased amount of syndicated national and international programming.”
Additionally, the sale of KTRU will eliminate the educational component of the station. According to the Petition,
“It has long been a Commission policy that the bedrock goal of any NCE [non-commercial educational] license is to promote an educational program. Now, Rice and UHS propose to entirely undermine the educational purpose for which the license was originally granted in favor of a cash-grab. Rice is effectively treating the KTRU License like any other university asset, and completely ignoring the Commission’s mandate that the license serve an educational purpose. Instead, Rice is seeking to profit from the sale of a license that was founded and operated by students, in order to pad the university budget.”
Friends of KTRU did an impressive job pulling together their Petition to Deny and I think they make very compelling arguments for why the FCC should deny University of Houston’s application to purchase KTRU. Beyond some of the arguments that we’ve heard before, they also unearthed some public file violations at the University of Houston radio station and point out that it’s been the FCC’s policy to treat those violations very seriously. They also take issue with Rice University’s assertion that radio is in decline and vehemently oppose the argument that KTRU should do just fine continuing as an 0nline-only station. I’m happy to see that KTRU is fighting valiantly for the retention of their independent, local college radio station and will be curious to see how the FCC responds.