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FCC Political Bureau Says No Zapple Complaint Filed "for eight years." MAC Director's Response:

November 30, 2012

Dear Mr. Berlin,
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It has come to my attention that you are telling people the following in response to their requests that the FCC uphold the Zapple Doctrine due to violations by WISN and WTMJ radio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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For the Zapple Doctrine to be invoked, the supporters of the opposing candidate would have to specifically ask the station for air time.  If the station refused, the supporters could then appeal to the FCC, but no such Zapple complaint has been made in at least eight years.  Therefore, there was no violation of the Zapple Doctrine by the stations here, and even if there were, that would not be a basis for the denial of a license renewal, since programming has nothing to do with licensing in the first place.
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Perhaps, sir, you have forgotten our telephone conversation last May about this matter.  Perhaps you have forgotten that, on May 24th of this year, I emailed you documents entitled "Formal Complaint to FCC re WISN and WTMJ," and "addendum:  Formal Complaint to FCC re WISN and WTMJ" citing specific Zapple violations by the stations.  Perhaps you have forgotten that you emailed me back, acknowledging receipt of said complaint. 
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To be clear, just as you outlined above, during the Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recall campaign, dozens of supporters of Mayor Tom Barrett did contact WISN and WTMJ radio asking for air time, and they were denied.  As part of our complaint, I sent you, Hope Cooper, and all five Commissioners emails from three of those people as a representative sample. 
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As the Zapple violation took place in the middle of the election, the complaint was urgent; as noted on the complaint, "time is of the essence."


On Thursday, July 26th, I copied you on an email sent to Hope Cooper, entitled "Followup to Milwaukee Talk Radio Complaint."  And on Monday, November 5th, I sent Hope Cooper an email entitled "Update and support documents" which included more than a thousand signatures from the public supporting our complaint, as well as a support letter from major groups whose membership exceeds a half a million people supporting our complaint about the Zapple violations.
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Perhaps you are not aware that the entire effort was well publicized;  Talkers Magazine even wrote "The FCC rules on this matter may have a significant effect on the upcoming Fall national and state elections."
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Of course, that didn't happen, as your bureau apparently ignored the entire matter.
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The people of the Milwaukee area have been patiently waiting, Mr. Berlin, but their patience is running thin.  It appears that no one at the FCC has paid any attention whatsoever to an effort that cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of effort.  
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And now I find myself in the position of having to defend myself to those who have trusted my representation that I filed such a Zapple case.  My reputation is being unfairly impugned.
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Mr. Berlin, I ask that you rectify this entire situation immediately.  I ask that your office immediately decide on the original complaint.  (I will next forward all original correspondence to facilitate this.)  I also ask that you contact everyone whom you have told there has been no Zapple case filed for eight years and correct the record.
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I further ask that, before you make any decisions about pending license challenges, you review the Petitions to Deny first.  Our arguments may surprise you.
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Sincerely,
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Sue Wilson
Media Action Center