Category Archives: Pirate Radio

2015 summary of shortwave pirate radio activity

pirateMany thanks to Chris Smolinski at HF Underground who has released his annual summary of shortwave pirate radio activity for 2015. The summary is built upon a computer script that parsed thread titles and timestamps of the messages from the HF Underground pirate radio board.

Message board activity based on the day of the week.

Message board activity based on the day of the week.

It’s a fascinating read and reinforces my belief that the HF pirate radio scene is certainly one of the most dynamic and active components of our shortwave radio listening hobby here in North America (and Europe). Thanks, Chris, for putting together this summary!

Click here to read the 2015 summary on HF Underground.

FCC: Remarks on the Growth of Pirate Radio

SX-99-Dial-NarMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bob, who writes:

Remarks on the Growth of Pirate Radio from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Communications and Technology Subcommittee, November 17, 2015:

“I know that this committee is concerned about pirate radio. During my tenure we have taken 280 enforcement actions against pirate radio, that’s in the last two years. Commissioner [Michael] O’Rielly has been a real leader in keeping us focused on this. We’re working with the NAB [National Association of Broadcasters] on a joint task force on pirate radio. But we need more tools.

“We’re playing whack-a-mole with pirate radio. Every time a pirate radio station pops up, we whack it. We need to have consequences for those who facilitate those stations popping up. The landlords who look the other way, because helping pirates is risk-free.

“Congress could make it illegal to aid or abet pirate radio operations. Denying them the opportunity to operate in this way would be a significant means of thwarting the continued growth of pirate radio.”

http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/oversight-federal-communications-commission-1

List of seasonal shortwave radio pirates

2013PaisanoQSL-Witherspoon112

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader Chris Smolinski who shares a link to this listing of  “seasonal” shortwave pirates–pirates that are usually only heard one or two days out of the year: http://www.radiohobbyist.org/blog/?p=1725

I love logging seasonal pirates–at least, when I remember to tune in! For example, Radio Paisano [see QSL above] only airs around Columbus Day.

Ofcom: Tackling pirate radio

London

This Ofcom press release focuses on the FM pirate radio scene in London–if interested, you might also check out this short documentary on London pirates.

(Source: Ofcom via Southgate ARC)

A new approach to tackling pirate radio has eradicated the problem in one London borough, and could save up to £1 million for Londoners by being rolled out across the capital.

Pirate radio harms local communities and the critical communications used by the emergency services. Ofcom, which manages radio frequencies, is hosting a summit on 3 November to explore the new approach to tackling the problem.

Pirate stations typically use high-rise buildings for their broadcasts, with illegal transmitters installed on rooftops or hidden in lift shafts. This damages residential properties owned by local authorities, disrupting residents’ lives and putting people at risk from falling equipment.

Ofcom has been working in north London, one of the UK’s most affected areas, with public housing body Homes for Haringey. In 2014, 19 pirate radio stations were illegally broadcasting in Haringey. By quickly removing their transmitters and regularly patrolling and securing rooftops, pirate radio has now been eradicated in the borough.

As a result, Homes for Haringey has saved £90,000 in enforcement and maintenance costs over the past year.

On 3 November, Ofcom is meeting with local authorities from across London to share the success of the Homes for Haringey partnership. If this collaborative and proactive approach is rolled out across the capital, local authorities stand to save an estimated total of £1 million per year.

Illegal broadcasting

Clive Corrie, Head of Ofcom’s Spectrum Enforcement team, said: “Illegal broadcasting harms local communities and risks lives by interfering with vital communications used by the emergency services and air traffic control.

“By working in partnership with local authorities, Ofcom is tackling this problem. We also strongly urge those broadcasting illegally to get involved with internet or community radio, a legitimate route on to the airwaves.”

Astrid Kjellberg-Obst, Executive Director of Operations at Homes for Haringey, said: “Pirate radio stations damage people’s homes and can be extremely distressing to our residents.

“We’ve seen huge success in tackling the problem with the measures that we’ve introduced, removing all pirate radio stations from Haringey and saving the borough tens of thousands of pounds in the process. We will continue to work with Ofcom to keep Haringey pirate-free.”

Harmful interference to emergency services

Pirate radio causes interference to critical radio services, including those used by the emergency services and air traffic control.

In 2014, the UK’s air traffic control service NATS has reported 55 cases of communications interference from pirate radio.

Ofcom also receives reports each week from the emergency services and other, legitimate radio services of illegal interference.

Ofcom has powers to seize illegal broadcasting equipment and prosecute those involved.

Accessible, legal alternatives to get on to the airwaves

For anyone wanting to broadcast a radio station, Ofcom offers accessible, legal alternatives to get on to the airwaves. Since 2005, Ofcom has issued community radio licenses, enabling small stations across the UK to get on-air right and serve their local communities. More than 200 community radio services are now broadcasting.

Ofcom is also supporting a new, innovative way for smaller stations to broadcast on digital radio. If tests are successful the system, called ‘small scale DAB’, promises to open up digital radio to smaller broadcasters for a fraction of current costs.

UVB-76: The Buzzer surfaces on 6,998 kHz

Photo: Andrea Borgnino

Image: Andrea Borgnino

My buddy, Andrea Borgnino, recently heard UVB-76 (The Buzzer) on 6,998 kHz with his Elecraft K3 in Italy. Check out this short video:

While the audio sounds identical to that of UVB-76’s on 4,625 kHz. I strongly suspect this is simply a pirate radio station relay–especially since it’s broadcasting just below the 40 meter ham radio band. Either way, it’s a great catch! Thanks for sharing, Andrea!