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Radio New York International - History 4

Throughout these discussions with the Coastguards  RNYI's test broadcasts of non-stop music had continued, but shortly after the crew had reluctantly decided to comply with the Restraining Order the station went off the air.

Shortly before Christmas 1988 Judge McNought made the temporary Restraining Order against RNYI a permanent one and advised the people behind the station to apply for a legal, landbased broadcasting licence when the waveband above 1610kHz (186m) became available the following year.

The Court also ruled that as well as internal broadcasts the FCC does have jurisdiction over all broadcasts into the United States from whatever source. This was a significant, if somewhat curious decision which, because if taken to its logical conclusion, would give the FCC  powers over any  foreign broadcaster including, for example, the BBC World Service or Radio Moscow's shortwave service.

After the Court decision RNYI owner, Al Weiner, remained defiant, saying that he would put the offshore station back on the air "one way or another, hopefully within the next two months." He maintained that a radio station based on a ship anchored in international waters was outside the jurisdiction and control of the FCC and that his station had operated on a frequency which caused no interference to any legal stations.

The US authorities also remained equally determined to prevent the Sarah, or any other ship for that matter, being used as a base for an offshore radio station. This policy was assisted greatly at the beginning of January 1989 when, coincidentally, the USA extended its territorial waters limit to 12 miles from the shoreline, putting the Sarah at her Long Island anchorage well within the jurisdiction of all official bodies.

Al Weiner  decided to appeal against the December 1988 Court decision and, pending hearing of that case, the Sarah was moved back to Boston. The appeal hearing eventually took place in the Federal Court on 3rd August 1989 and, in a decision made known early  in September 1989, the ruling that the FCC did have powers to control broadcasts into the USA from outside territorial limits  as well as those emanating from within the country itself was confirmed. This Court ruling finally gave legal status to the hitherto untested theoretical extent of the FCC's powers outside the USA. These powers had originally been incorporated within the FCC's constitution when it was established following the anarchic activities of the first commercial offshore radio station, RKXR, operating off the California coast in 1934.

When the FCC eventually extended the medium wave frequencies available to broadcasters  on 1st July 1990 Al Weiner was offered a licence for his station, Radio New York International. However, the offer was refused because he wanted the station to be "free and outside of FCC control."

Weiner also had plans to operate RNYI on shortwave where it could reach a world-wide audience and, although  now prevented from using its offshore base, RNYI did reappear in September 1990 on the frequency of shortwave station World Wide Christian Radio (WWCR) in Nashville, Tennessee. These broadcasts initially took place for four hours on Monday evenings from 17th September 1990. Gradually various other shortwave outlets were introduced leading to a 7 days a week service from RNYI. A daily programme was also broadcast from 18th March 1991 on short wave station  WRNO on 7355kHz.

Later in 1991 RNYI used these shortwave facilities to offer Radio Caroline airtime following the grounding and subsequent detention in port of the Ross Revenge. Tapes of Radio Caroline programmes were also broadcast, courtesy of RNYI, over a second shortwave outlet in Costa Rica - Radio for Peace International, a station jointly owned by World Peace University and the University of Peace, both United Nations affiliated organisations.  

Meanwhile, following the failure of the second attempt to launch RNYI in 1988 the MV Sarah remained in Boston Harbour. There were stories in September 1991 that she had been sold to a new consortium, MPLX, in which John England (who had earlier planned to re-launch Radio London from an offshore base - WRLI) was involved with an associate, Gene Baskir. They had plans with groups in China to establish an offshore station, Radio Tianamin, and for this purpose the Sarah was to be renamed Liberty. There were also some stories that the ship may have been used to broadcast programmes to North America using the Radio Caroline call sign, but nothing definite came from any of these plans.

Al Weiner's interest and involvement in offshore radio did not end with the apparently fatal 1989 Court ruling against RNYI. While continuing to operate his station over hired shortwave outlets he became involved in planning another offshore operation, this time determined to ensure that legally and financially he would not be vulnerable to action from the various regulatory authorities.

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