A group calling itself the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America has filed a petition with the FCC asking the Commission to revoke the license of the translator owned by John Garziglia. FM translator W288BS in Reston, Virginia rebroadcasts WZHF-AM in the Washington DC metro which carries Radio Sputnik.
In the 105 page filing the group says a radio station licensee’s primary duty is to broadcast programming that is responsive to the needs of the community it serves and Garziglia has failed in that duty.
They called the Reston Translator a paid agent of Russia and an active participant in a foreign influence and disinformation network to advance the illegitimate interests of Russia. “In Ukraine, as women and children are being murdered, whole populations are being displaced, hospitals are being bombed and a great humanitarian crisis unfolds, Radio Sputnik continues to broadcast Russian government agitprop.”
In response, Garziglia tells Radio Ink it’s somewhat ironic that the sole named W288BS radio listener supporting the UCCA petition is Irena Chalupa. “Chalupa is identified in the petition as a Washington DC resident. Chalupa, the petition’s proponent, appears to be the same person on a current LinkedIn page who is an employee of a media organization entirely funded by the United States government, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.”
Garziglia says Chalupa should have more respect for the First Amendment. “Reston Translator LLC, like many radio broadcast licensees, does not subscribe to nor necessarily condone the viewpoints and speakers presented over its airwaves. In fact, W288BS can only re-broadcast another radio station as its primary station and cannot originate any content whatsoever. Chalupa, however, seeks to use the broadcast station licensing power of the US government to abridge the freedom of speech of Reston Translator LLC in its re-broadcast of Washington DC area AM primary station WZHF.
Garziglia goes on to say that Chalupa can simply turn the radio station off. “Chalupa complains in the petition of “the injury I suffer as a regular listener of these (sic) W288BS.” Washington DC resident and radio listener Chalupa has several dozen stations in the metro area to which to listen, and no one forces Chalupa to be the regular listener of W288BS that Chalupa claims to be. But nonetheless, Chalupa advocates for an authoritarian/totalitarian speech-suppression approach of asking our US government to disappear W288BS.”
And finally, the retired broadcast attorney points out that for a portion of each day, the primary station programming that W288BS re-broadcasts is live and locally-originated. “That programming includes invitations for listener telephone calls where listener viewpoints are broadcast and discussed. Rather than seeking governmental license-revoking censorship of a US media outlet, if Chalupa were to call in and participate in the opinions that are broadcast, Chalupa would not only be negating the pernicious assumption of our enemies that our First Amendment is words only, but would also be showing our First Amendment as the world’s freedom of speech beacon we profess and know it to be.”
Read the Ukrainian Congress Committee filing HERE