Tag Archives: Ajit Pai

The FCC’s mission to shut down pirate radio

Recently, there have been numerous articles regarding FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s efforts to increase pirate radio enforcement. This article in The Outline is a worthy read and features our good friend David Goren prominently:

The FCC wants pirate radio stations off the air

Immigrant communities rely on these unlicensed broadcasts to stay connected to their roots. Now they could lose the signal.

On any given night, David Goren can tune into more than 30 underground radio stations from his apartment in Flatbush, Brooklyn. “About a dozen of them broadcast in Creole, to the Haitian community,” Goren, a local journalist and producer who researches the city’s pirate stations, told The Outline. “A lot of the stations will air news from home.” In addition to news and politics updates, Goren said, these stations feature Caribbean music that doesn’t get airtime on mainstream stations, advertisements for local businesses, and occasional call-in sessions with immigration attorneys.

For some immigrant communities across the country, these underground radio stations are an easy way of staying connected to one’s roots. In New York City, there may be more unlicensed broadcasters than licensed ones. Some of these clandestine broadcasters are small enterprises, while others are full-fledged stations that run advertisements and generate revenue. All of them run the risk of being fined — or in some states, including New York, New Jersey, and Florida, having their operators imprisoned — if they’re caught by the Federal Communications Commission.

[…]A map of enforcement actions on the FCC’s website illustrates the crackdown. The FCC has undertaken 306 pirate investigations since Pai took office in January 2017. The majority of these actions — 210, according to a press release issued by the agency on Wednesday — were Notices of Unauthorized Operations, warnings from the FCC telling the unlicensed stations to immediately shut down or risk fines and prison time. The release also notes that the FCC “took more than twice as many actions against pirate broadcasters” in 2017 than it did the previous year. (For the first time since its inception, the agency said, it has begun holding property owners liable for “supporting this illegal activity on their property.”)[…]

Click here to read the full article on The Outline.

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FCC asks Apple to activate iPhone FM receivers

My Android FM receiver app.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Van Hoy, who forwards the following story from The Verge:

FCC chairman Ajit Pai wants Apple to turn on the FM radio that’s hidden inside of every iPhone. In a statement today, he asked that Apple “reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.” The FM radio, he said, can be used to receive “life-saving information” during disasters.

Apple said Pai’s request wasn’t possible for its newest phones. “iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement. Apple seemed to indicate that it had no plans to enable FM radio on older phones either, saying that the iPhone already includes other safety features.

Most smartphones have an FM radio inside, and they have for a long time. Until recently, however, most of those radios were deactivated, so that owners couldn’t use them. There were a handful of reasons for this, but two of the more obvious ones were that if your phone receives FM radio, you’re going to be less likely to pay for music and extra wireless data — instead, you’d just tune into the radio for free.[…]

Click here to read the full article at The Verge…

Dan notes: “The one false part of Apple’s response is about the antenna. Earbuds are used for the FM antenna in mobile phones. I use mine often when I travel.” 

That’s correct, Dan–I use my Moto phone’s FM receiver a lot when travelling and, in fact, it requires earphones to operate. Some of the latest iPhones don’t even have earphone jacks, but most previous models did.

It’s too bad Apple won’t allow for the receiver to be unlocked in the models that do have FM radio. It’s such a great, accessible and free feature.

Thanks again for the tip, Dan!

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai questioned about pirate enforcement

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

(Source: Tom Taylor Now newsletter)

FCC staff will be “cops on the beat” against pirates.

Chairman Ajit Pai had his stats ready for yesterday’s House Oversight Hearing – the FCC’s issued 39 NOUOs (Notice of Unlicensed Operation) this year, among other enforcement actions. Pai knew the question about the effect of closing of 11 field offices was coming from somewhere, and it was posed by Tampa-area Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis. Pai says as a Commissioner, “I had substantial disagreements with the original” plan of then-Chair Tom Wheeler. The compromise worked out with Congress included closing the Tampa field office – but Pai says the Commission’s doing its best to address the pirate problem that is “a problem all across the East coast.” That when he says the staff is determined to be “cops on the beat” against unlicensed operators. That seemed to satisfy Bilirakis. More from the hearing – there’s support for a new minority tax certificate plan. It would incentivize an owner to sell to a qualified minority by offering a tax break or deferral. And we haven’t mentioned the #1 complaint around telecom – doing something to choke off robocalls and “spoof calls.”

Check out the full Tom Taylor Now newsletter which also includes questions posed to Chairman Pai, about defining Net Neutrality.

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Activating mobile phone FM: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s remarks at NAB symposium

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Aaron Kuhn, who shares the following:

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s remarks at the North American Broadcasters Association’s Future of Radio and Audio Symposium from today have been posted at

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0216/DOC-343529A1.pdf

I found the most interesting info in the statement is only 44% of the top selling smartphones in the US have an FM Chip activated have them activated. This figure pales in comparison to Mexico, where 80% of the top selling smartphones have the FM Radio chip activated.

Chair Pai goes on to state:

“You could make a case for activating chips on public safety grounds alone. The former head of our Federal Emergency Management Administration has spoken out in support of this proposal.

[…]I’ll keep speaking out about the benefits of activating FM chips. Having said that, as a believer in free markets and the rule of law, I cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips. I don’t believe the FCC has the power to issue a mandate like that, and more generally I believe it’s best to sort this issue out in the marketplace. For despite the low numbers, we are seeing progress; in the last two years, the percentage of top-selling smartphones in the United States that have activated FM chips has risen from less than 25% to 44%. “

Which leads me to this question for the SWLing Post community: would the benefits, emergency and otherwise, of mandated, activated FM Receiver Chips in new Smartphones sold outweigh the free market arguments?

Feel free to share your comments!

Please note: our SWLing Post comment moderators keep this site a safe haven from partisan politics–after all, we’re here to talk and play radio! Sometimes, however, local/international politics and radio intersect, but please leave partisan discussions or any animosity for specific politicians for a political site. 🙂

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Ajit Pai designated as chairman of the FCC

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai (R)

(Source: Forbes)

In one of his first official acts, President Trump designated Commissioner Ajit Pai as the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He is the first newly appointed Republican chairman since Kevin Martin nearly 12 years ago. Many have asked: how will the FCC change under Chairman Pai?

Until recent years, the FCC was not a partisan agency. Having served with commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly, Chairman Pai is not expected to be particularly partisan.

Chairman Pai has served as a commissioner for nearly 5 years, and his views on a wide range of topics are publicly available on his FCC website that highlights his many Commission opinions, Congressional testimonies, speeches, publications, and blogs.

It is impossible to predict exactly where Chairman Pai will go with specific future policies such as network neutrality, particular mergers, and the aftermath of the disappointing and flawed broadcaster spectrum auction. But it is easy to describe broad themes of a Chairman Pai: follow the law, less regulation, and a folksy approach to government. […]

Continue reading at Forbes.com.

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FCC championing change that could “Bolster AM Radio”

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai (R)

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai

It appears that FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai, is pushing a plan to revitalize declining AM radio station and listener numbers in the US. Read some of the details below or the full article on the New York Times website.

Many thanks to David Goren for the tip!

(Source: NY Times)

The [The Federal Communications Commission] announced late Thursday that it would begin seeking public comment on numerous changes[.]

[…]Because of interference caused by consumer electronics, smartphones and the like, AM radio often seems to deliver mostly static. The AM audience has fallen to 15 percent of all radio listeners, down from 50 percent as recently as 1978. While the FM audience has fallen as well, it draws more than five times the audience of AM.

[Steps include] eliminating a regulation requiring stations to prove that any new equipment decreases interference with other stations — a requirement that is expensive, cumbersome and difficult to meet.

The F.C.C. has also proposed eliminating or loosening rules that govern nighttime transmissions by AM stations. Those regulations currently require many AM stations to reduce their power or cease operating at night to avoid interference with other stations.

[…]The current regulations make it difficult for AM stations to locate towers where they will not interfere with nearby stations at night. They also put conflicting requirements on stations, mandating that they still cover most of their broadcast territory even while operating at reduced power.

The proposed new rules, the commission said, aim at keeping more stations on the air at night.

[T]he F.C.C. said it was ready to make available to current FM stations what are known as FM translators — empty spots on the FM dial where AM stations can broadcast. Those are particularly valuable in urban areas, where tall buildings with steel frames or aluminum siding can block AM signals, degrading reception.

[Read the full article at the NY Times website…]

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The Take Away interviews Ajit Pai

AjitPaiMany thanks to Dan Srebnick for sending a link to this piece on The Take Away.

In The Quest To Save AM Radio, John Hockenberry talks about AM radio nostalgia and then interviews Ajit Pai (who was mentioned in a post a few days ago).

Click here to download an MP3 of the interview or simply listen via the embedded player below.

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