Monday, May 14, 2018

Bill Introduced To Thwart And Penalize Radio Pirates

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RadioWorld reports another legislative step has been taken in the effort to fight illegal pirate radio operations.

On May 8, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) formally introduced a bill to Congress designed to thwart and penalize illegal radio operations.

Known as the ‘‘Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act,” the PIRATE Act will increase the ability of the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on pirate activity by increasing fines, streamlining enforcement and placing liability those who facilitate illegal radio broadcasts.

“It is time to take these pirates off the air by hiking the penalties and working with the Federal Communications Commission on enforcement,” Lance said in a statement. Chairman Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly have been able partners in making sure these broadcasts are stopped. This bill will give the FCC even more tools to take down these illegal broadcasts.”

As a commissioner who has long been searching for more Congressional authority to address pirate radio operations, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly commended the effort after the news was announced.

“This bill rightfully increases the penalties, requires regular enforcement sweeps, and augments the tools available to the commission, which are woefully inadequate and outdated, to deal with illegal pirate broadcasters,” O’Rielly said in a statement.

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1 comment:

  1. As a broadcast engineer of more than four decades I agree that action needs to be taken against pirates who cause interference to licensed users of the radio spectrum. Unfortunately the authors of the bill along with the FCC fail to address several points.

    The flood of illegally imported FM transmitters available on venues such as ebay and Amazon, among other places, makes it all too easy for a pirate to get on the air with nothing more than a few clicks of the mouse. Besides the fact these devices are so poorly designed that they create havoc on the band their spurious emissions can create harmful interference to public safety and aeronautical band users. While everybody is so concerned with creating new laws to fight piracy nobody is enforcing a regulation on the books to prevent the importing of these problematic FM transmitters in the first place. The Communications Act of 1934, Title 47 C.F.R Section 302(a) states "... No person shall manufacture, import, sell, offer for sale, or ship devices or home electronic equipment and systems, or use devices, which fail to comply with regulations promulgated pursuant to this section." Enforcement of this existing law would cut the supply of illegal transmitters, preventing the majority of pirates from taking to the air in the first place.

    The PIRATE Act also makes no distinction between a unlicensed but legal Part 15 radio enthusiast using an FCC certified 100 milliwatt AM transmitter attempting to make a good faith effort to comply with those regulations who might have inadvertently strayed outside of the regulations with the actions of blatant pirate operator intentionally pushing tens or hundreds of watts on the FM band. This potentially opens up a large potential liability to hobbyists and campus-limited school radio stations as, without any distinction, they will be viewed with the same disdain as a blatant pirate. Will it take a lawsuit from a Part 15er before any sort of distinction is made between the two?

    Bill DeFelice