Are government shutdowns a potential haven for pirate radio stations?

Photo by Michael Maasen

SWLing Post Bill Patalon sent me this piece from the ARRL stating that amateur radio applications have been on hold at the FCC as most of the agency has been closed in the US government shutdown. It appears the government will reopen now, at least for the next three weeks.

Thinking about the closure of the FCC and its effect on licensed operators, also made me think about unlicensed radio operators: a.k.a. pirate radio stations.

Are government shutdowns a potential broadcast opportunity for pirates that might not otherwise take to the air?

I’m curious if anyone noted new shortwave or FM pirate stations during the US government shutdown. Did the respite from FCC enforcement bring anyone out of the woodwork?  Please comment!

PS: Can you do us a favor? In comments, please stay on topic (radio) and refrain from political arguments. Many of us appreciate the SWLing Post as a refuge from the toxic back-and-forth prevalent on so many other sites. If you would like to engage in political discourse, please check out Reddit. Thank you!

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5 thoughts on “Are government shutdowns a potential haven for pirate radio stations?

  1. Tung Sol

    The Pirate Act specifically defines pirate radio as “the transmission of communications on spectrum frequencies between 535 and 1705 kilohertz, inclusive, or 87.7 and 108 megahertz, inclusive, without a license issued by the Commission, but does not include unlicensed operations in compliance with part 15 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations.’’

    In this bill, version dated Jan. 9 2019, by definition unlicensed HF broadcasting cannot be pirate radio.

    1. rtc

      The new version of the Act continues to specifically exempt Part 15 users who are
      in compliance.
      But can Amazon continue to sell those 30 watt FM band transmitters?

  2. Tung Sol

    The FCC Operations Center, which includes the 24 hour Watch Officer post, remains staffed through the shutdown. The only ‘respite’ is the FCC’s usual underfunded and reduced enforcement which is mostly limited to supporting safety-of-life and troubleshooting serious interference cases. Examples would include RFI/EMI affecting mobile phone carriers, local police or aviation.

    That said, egregious and long-running unlicensed operations will sooner or later come to the FCC’s attention — if they are on the FM band. While Congress continues to press the FCC to interdict FM pirate stations, they couldn’t care less about HF ops. No HF pirates have been included in the recent flurry of enforcement actions against unlicensed stations.

  3. Chicken McChicken

    >PS: Can you do us a favor? In comments, please stay on topic (radio) and refrain from political arguments.

    Short wave radio IS political.
    The running of such stations and their funding IS politically motivated.

    Might be fine line to navigate.

    But otherwise, I agree.


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