Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
July 19, 2013
DA- 13-1604In Reply Refer to:
Released: July 19, 2013
Mr. William Haas
4579 Laclede, #141
St. Louis, MO 63108
Scott R. Flick, Esq.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP
2300 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
KWMU(FM), St. Louis, MO
Facility ID No. 65585
The Curators of the University of Missouri
File No. BRED-20121001BER
Dear Mr. Haas and Counsel:
This letter refers to: (1) the above-referenced application ("Renewal Application") filed by the
Curators of the University of Missouri ("Licensee") for renewal of license of noncommercial educational
Station KWMU(FM), St. Louis, Missouri ("Station"); and (2) the January 10, 2013, Informal Objection
("Objection") to that application and January 14, 2013, Addendum ("Addendum") filed by Mr. William
Haas ("Haas").1 For the reasons set forth below, we deny the Objection and grant the Renewal
In his Objection, Haas opposes the Renewal Application based on a perceived bias
in the Station's political programming, particularly with respect to his candidacy in the 2012 Democratic
Primary for Missouri Lieutenant Governor.2 Haas alleges that Don Marsh ("Marsh"), a host of a program
aired on the Station, purportedly disparaged Haas' candidacy during his show several times prior to the
election, and that a guest of Marsh's show allegedly insulted Haas' candidacy on a program aired the day
before the election.3 Haas further claims that he was denied air time when he called in to Marsh's show
on a separate occasion before the election.4
1 Licensee filed a Response to the Informal Objection and Addendum ("Response") on February 11, 2013.
2 Objection at 1. Haas states that he was a candidate in the 2012 Democratic Primary for Missouri's Lieutenant
Governor. See id
. at 1-2. Haas raises additional allegations of an alleged off-air personal "vendetta" against Haas by Marsh. See
Addendum at 2. However, such allegations pertain to matters outside of the Commission's authority. The
Commission does not regulate the alleged conduct that is the subject of these allegations. See Anti-Defamation
Rather than deny the Application, however, Haas requests that the Commission implement certain
rules for "all publicly funded stations" regarding political programming during elections, require an on-air
apology to Haas, and place the Station on "probation."5
In response, Licensee claims that the insults perceived by Haas "never occurred."6 Licensee
further argues that the Commission's grant of Haas' requested remedies would amount to "settling
personal claims and emotional venting."7
Informal objections to license renewal applications must, pursuant to Section 309(e)
of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended ("Act"),8 provide properly supported allegations of fact
that, if true, would establish a substantial and material question of fact that grant of the application would
be prima facie
inconsistent with Section 309(k) of the Act,9 which governs our evaluation of an
application for license renewal. Specifically, Section 309(k)(1) provides that we are to grant the renewal
application if, upon consideration of the application and pleadings, we find that: (1) the station has served
the public interest, convenience, and necessity; (2) there have been no serious violations of the Act or the
Rules; and (3) there have been no other violations which, taken together, constitute a pattern of abuse.10
If, however, the licensee fails to meet that standard, the Commission may deny the application after
notice and opportunity for a hearing under Section 309(e) of the Act or grant the application "on terms
and conditions that are appropriate, including a renewal for a term less than the maximum otherwise
We note initially that Section 399 of the Act12 states specifically that
"[n]o noncommercial educational broadcasting station may support or oppose any candidate for public
office." However, the Objection fails to allege adequate and specific factual allegations concerning the
League of B'nai B'rith
, Memorandum Opinion, 4 FCC 2d 190, 191 (1966) ("The Commission cannot put such
matters in issue without becoming the censor of broadcasting, which it is forbidden to do.").
4 Addendum at 2.
5 Objection at 2. Haas' suggested rules include requiring that public radio stations: (1) refrain from airing "any
shows discussing candidates or issues on their programming the week of any election"; (2) discourage "staff and
guests from opining on the qualification of any candidate for nomination or office"; (3) "institute steps to make
reasonable air time available for any candidate, issue group, or other person who feels aggrieved by a news story or
program about them"; and (4) "consider the hiring of a public ombudsperson/ethicist to help them be more
responsible on such matters." See id
6 Response at 4. Licensee also provides transcripts of the segment contradicting Haas' allegations. See
8 47 U.S.C. 309(e).
9 See, e.g., WWOR-TV, Inc.,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 193, 197 n. 10 (1990), aff'd sub nom.
Garden State Broadcasting L.P. v. FCC
, 996 F.2d 386 (D.C. Cir. 1993), rehearing denied
(Sep. 10, 1993); Area
Christian Television, Inc.,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 60 RR 2d 862, 864 (1986) (informal objection must
contain adequate and specific factual allegations sufficient to warrant the relief requested).
10 47 U.S.C. 309(k)(1). The renewal standard was amended to read as described by Section 204(a) of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996). See Implementation of Sections 204(a)
and 204(c) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Broadcast License Renewal Procedures)
, Order, 11 FCC Rcd
11 47 U.S.C. 309(k)(2), 309(k)(3).
12 47 U.S.C. 399.
alleged political programming issues sufficient to warrant Commission action.13 Haas maintains that
Marsh, as well as a guest on Marsh's show, disparaged Haas' candidacy,14 but nowhere does Haas assert
that either person's comments represented the views of the Station.15 Therefore, Haas has not raised a
substantial and material question of fact calling for further inquiry regarding whether the Station
"opposed" Haas' candidacy in violation of Section 399 of the Act. Accordingly, we reject these
We also reject Haas' allegation that he was "screened off" of Marsh's show when asked to
identify himself upon calling in to comment on an unspecified, "not election-related" topic.16 Stations are
not required to have any candidates on a particular program.17 Moreover, the reasonable access
requirements of Section 312(a)(7) apply only to commercial stations and only to candidates for federal
elective office18 neither of which are at issue here. Accordingly, whether or not Haas' call was taken
during a call-in show, the Station's actions violate no statute, rule, or Commission policy.
As to Haas' suggestion that the Commission implement certain rules for
"public" radio stations regarding political broadcasting during elections, this is not the correct forum for
such requests.19 To the extent that Haas believes that additional rules are necessary, he may file a petition
for rulemaking proposing such specific provisions.20
In light of the above discussion, we find that Haas has not raised a substantial and
material question of fact calling for further inquiry regarding the Station's performance during the
preceding license term. We have also evaluated the Renewal Application pursuant to Section 309(k) of
the Act,21 and we find that the 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 Rules; and there have been no
other violations which, taken together, constitute a pattern of abuse.
13 See Area Christian Television, Inc.
, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 60 RR 2d 862, 864 (1986).
14 Specifically, Haas alleges that he was depicted as "not a credible or legitimate candidate or some such thing."
Objection at 1.
15 See FCC v. League of Women Voters
, 468 U.S. 364, 397 (1984) (finding that Section 399 "does not prevent the
use of noncommercial stations for the presentation of partisan views on controversial matters; instead, it merely bars
a station from specifically communicating such views on its own behalf or on behalf of its management ").
16 Addendum at 2.
17 47 U.S.C. 315(a) ("No obligation is imposed under this subsection upon any licensee to allow the use of its
station by any such candidate."); see also The Law of Political Broadcasting and Cablecasting: Political Primer
, 100 FCC 2d 1476 (1984).
18 47 U.S.C. 312(a)(7) ("The Commission may revoke any station license or construction permit for willful or
repeated failure to allow reasonable access or to permit purchase of reasonable amounts of time for the use of a
broadcasting station, other than a non-commercial educational broadcast station
, by a legally qualified candidate
elective office on behalf of his candidacy.") (emphasis added).
19 47 U.S.C. 399.
20 See Paralyzed Veterans of America v. D.C. Arena, L.P.
, 117 F.3d 579, 586 (D.C. Cir. 1997); Syncor Int'l Corp. v.
, 127 F.3d 90, 94 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (new interpretation of an agency rule in conflict with prior definitive
interpretation requires notice and comment).
21 47 U.S.C. 309(k).
For the reasons set forth above, and pursuant to Section 309(k) of the Act, and Sections 0.61
and 0.283 of the Commission's Rules,22 the Informal Objection filed on January 10, 2013, by William
Haas IS DENIED, and the application (File No. BRED-20121001BER) of the Curators of the University
of Missouri for renewal of its license for Station KWMU(FM), St. Louis, Missouri, IS GRANTED.
Peter H. Doyle
Chief, Audio Division
22 47 U.S.C. 309(k); 47 C.F.R. 0.61, 0.283.