Las Vegas LPFM sues CPB over denial of grant

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A low-power FM station in Las Vegas is suing CPB over what it claims is the corporation’s “obvious bias” against awarding Community Service Grants to LPFMs.

KIOF-LP began broadcasting in February 2016 as Las Vegas Public Radio. Station President Gregory LaPorta filed a complaint on behalf of the station Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint said the station applied for a CSG in May but was turned down due to CPB requirements including minimum staffing and nonfederal financial support.

The lawsuit said such requirements are “discriminatory, exclusionary and confiscatory.”

The lawsuit also names the FCC as a defendant for actions including “allegedly acting in concert with CPB” to block interference tests the station had requested.

As part of the complaint, Las Vegas Public Radio is asking the court to subpoena information “for bias comparison purposes” on “stimulus funds” that it alleged CPB gave to several public radio stations. The station requested the data from 2005–16 for Nevada Public Radio, Reno Public Radio, UNLV Public Radio and KCEP Public Radio, all in Nevada, as well as Cincinnati Public Radio and Ohio Public Radio.

The station is asking for punitive damages of $1.7 million as well as other monetary damages. The station wants the court to appoint a pro-bono attorney because it is operating with a $90,000 deficit.

On Friday, a District Court judge gave LaPorta until Oct. 27 to identify an individual as a plaintiff, as the station cannot bring the lawsuit.

LaPorta’s father Andrew, the station’s business manager, previously complained about CPB in a comment published on the Spark News blog in November 2016.

Read the lawsuit and the court’s response.

Correction: An earlier version of this post identified LaPorta as the plaintiff. The plaintiff is Las Vegas Public Radio.

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