Black-owned radio station may lose license over FCC ‘character qualifications’ policy

Joe Armstrong, owner of WJBE, Knoxville’s only black-owned radio station, faces potential license revocation from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) due to a prior felony conviction.

Background: Armstrong’s 2016 conviction for making a false statement on his tax return has led the FCC to question his character qualifications.
* Armstrong, a former state representative, took ownership of WJBE in 2012.

The big picture: WJBE serves as an important source of news and information for the black community in Knoxville.
* The station broadcasts local news, weather, church services, and information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s happening: Armstrong is being represented by the Institute for Justice, a civil rights group, in his fight against the FCC.
* Andrew Ward, Armstrong’s attorney, argues that his past conviction is irrelevant to his ability to responsibly operate WJBE.

Precedents: The FCC has placed other licensees into hearing status due to previous felonies, such as Michael Hubbard of Auburn Network Inc. in Alabama, who did not have his licenses revoked.

View original article on NPR

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