Tag Archives: FM Pirates

The “Hidden Den” of Pirate Radio

NYC-NewYork-Brooklyn-Map

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Martin Kraft, who writes:

Where’s the hidden den of pirate radio? The Caribbean? The South China Sea? Nope, according to RadioWorld, it’s the New York City metro area:
http://www.radioworld.com/article/nybsa-76-pirates-stations-in-new-york-northern-nj/279213

NYSBA: 76 Pirate Stations in New York, Northern N.J.

A number of pirate stations are operating throughout New York City and Northern New Jersey, according to a recent engineering survey that was recently unveiled by the New York State Broadcasters Association.

According to the survey, 76 stations are currently operating without an FCC license in four primary locations. There are 19 unauthorized stations in the Bronx, N.Y.; 29 in Brooklyn, N.Y.; 13 in Newark, N.J.; and 15 in Paterson, N.J. Brooklyn saw a 58% increase in the number of pirate stations compared to a similar survey conducted in 2015.

The survey does observe that it has likely underestimated the number of pirate stations in the area, and that the total number could be more than 100.

“Like our previous studies, the new survey provides compelling evidence that the FCC needs to address this problem,” said David Donovan, president of the NYSBA. “Last summer, the entire New York Congressional delegation asked the FCC to fix the problem. While the FCC has published an Enforcement Advisory, it needs to devote the manpower and resources to increase its enforcement efforts. Moreover, Congressional action will be important to assist the FCC in these efforts.”

The potential harms associated with pirate stations include: interference to Broadcast Emergency Alert Services; interference to FAA frequencies; and failure to comply with RF radiation rules of licensed broadcast stations.

The survey was conducted by engineering firm Meintel, Sgrignoli and Wallace. The full study can be found here.

Thank you, Martin!

When I visit my buddy David Goren in Brooklyn, I’m simply amazed at the diversity of the pirate radio scene on the FM band. When David isn’t surfing the shortwaves, he’s logging local pirate radio stations. Check out his Facebook page: Flatbush Pirate Decoder. David most recently presented a program on the NYC pirate scene at the 11th HOPE conference–you can download a recording of the presentation here.

FCC Commissioner outlines 2016 anti-pirate agenda

fcc-logoMany thanks to an anonymous SWLing Post contributor who writes:

The FCC released this material [yesterday]. It consists mainly of letters to various organizations to ask their members to avoid cooperating with unlicensed radio stations.

The concern is that real estate owners may be harboring unauthorized stations, and that businesses may support such stations with advertising funds.

I would point you to an interesting opinion on the subject by Prof. John Anderson:

O’Rielly Outlines Anti-Pirate Agenda for 2016

John references this recent YouTube video clip of a Congressional hearing where FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is questioned on the FCC’s enforcement efforts:

Again, I am not the source of the following material–the FCC is:

STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER MICHAEL O’RIELLY ON PIRATE RADIO ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY.

STMT. News Media Contact: Robin Colwell at (202) 418-2300, email: Robin.Colwell@fcc.gov  OCMO https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-338021A1.docx
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-338021A1.pdf

Released:  03/01/2016.  FCC ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY: PERSONS OR BUSINESSES OPERATING “PIRATE” BROADCAST STATIONS ARE SUBJECT TO ENFORCEMENT ACTION. (DA No.  16-159)  This Enforcement Advisory discusses the rules that prohibit “pirate” radio, explains to the public at large what broadcast actions are illegal, why such activities may harm the public, and what do to in case someone suspects “pirate” broadcasts.  EB . News Media Contact: Will Wiquist at (202) 418-0509, email: Will.Wiquist@fcc.gov

https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A1.docx
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A10.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A11.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A12.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A13.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A2.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A3.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A4.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A5.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A6.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A7.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A8.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A9.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A1.pdf

Note that the bulk of this report focuses on FM/AM radio pirates in local markets rather than shortwave pirates (though I’m sure, on occasion, shortwave pirates are on the FCC radar).

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

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.

Brooklyn pirates “hijacking” the airwaves

pirateThanks to many of you who sent me a link  to this article in the New York Post. Here’s an excerpt:

Brooklyn radio fans are fighting a pirate invasion — demanding a crackdown on illicit Caribbean, Hebrew and shock-jock stations hijacking the airwaves.

Dozens of unlicensed shows operate in New York City on an average evening and the state is home to 25 percent of the nation’s pirate transmissions, according to the FCC.

But many radio amateurs aren’t forced to walk the plank. Instead, they find new hideaways for their equipment as FCC budget cuts decrease enforcement.

There were 46 FCC field actions in New York City in 2013, compared to just 20 through July 31 of this year, government data show.

Ike, a Sunset Park resident, launched Brooklyn Pirate Watch, a Twitter feed — @BkPirateWatch — to track rogue radio transmissions.

“I’m fascinated by the pirates,” he said. “Especially .?.?. their ability to get support from advertisers who .?.?. don’t care that they’re advertising on illegal stations.”

“Brooklyn Pirate Watch” has clocked one pirate at 94.3 FM, where a host shouted for female listeners to tune in while wearing lingerie. There’s also Radyo Independans, a

Haitian Creole station squatting on 90.9 FM, according to Jersey City indie station WFMU — which claims its legal broadcasts at 91.1 FM are often interrupted by its illicit rival.

[…] Pirates are going strong because the radio tools are cheap and their audiences are often “way less wired,” WFMU general manager Ken Freedman said.

Continue reading at the NY Post website…

I love that last quote by WFMU general manager, Ken Freedman. If listeners in Brooklyn, New York are “way less wired” imagine how shortwave listeners are in, say, South Sudan?