The subject of child pornography laws evokes strong reactions, for obvious reasons. One Arizona radio station owner finds himself in the middle of a firestorm when he weighed in on the subject, as Womble Carlyle Telecom attorney John Garziglia discusses with Radio Ink.
Paul Lotsof owns KAVV-FM in Benson, Ariz. The radio station, known as “The Cave,” frequently weighs in on political and social issues. In one on-air editorial, the station advocates for changing state and federal child pornography laws, citing instances where parents were charged for having baby bathtub photos.
However, Lotsof and KAVV appear to be under the threat of a criminal investigation after airing a PSA advising “Never keep paper pictures, tapes or films of naked juveniles where anyone else can find them. A public service message from the CAVE 97.7 FM.” The PSA aired for two years without much feedback before erupting in controversy in recent days.
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Daniels said in a press release that the PSA was “promoting and encouraging criminal behavior. This is a disgusting and unacceptable public service announcement and this type of propaganda encourages evil behavior.” Lotsof has said he is not encouraging illegal activity, but he has pulled the PSA.
“I feel that my announcement has served its purpose but it also has caused a lot of misunderstanding and strained emotions. That’s why I have taken it off the air,” Lotsof said in an editorial.
But Womble Carlyle attorney John Garziglia wrote in Radio Ink that Lotsof should be applauded for his willingness to speak up on controversial public issues.
“If only more radio stations had the courage and gumption to vigorously participate in civic discussions on often unpopular or disparaged points of view, we might not have to remind governmental officials of the First Amendment so often,” Garziglia writes.
Garziglia also takes issue with Sheriff Daniels for threatening criminal charges against someone exercising his Constitutional rights of free speech, describing the Sheriff’s comments as “highly chilling.”
John Garziglia represents radio and television broadcasters, offering personalized assistance in all areas of communications and telecommunications law including transactional and contract negotiations for broadcast station mergers and acquisitions, the securing of financing, governmental auctions of new frequencies, license renewals, new stations applications, facility changes, facility upgrades, licensing, and compliance with FCC rules, regulations and policies.
Follow John Garziglia on Twitter at @JohnGarziglia.