Tag Archives: FCC Anti-Pirate Agenda

FCC: Pirate Act now targets property owners with fines up to $2 Million

Photo by Ben Koorengevel

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Benn Kobb, who shares the following press release from the FCC:


Media Contact:
Will Wiquist, (202) 418-0509
will.wiquist@fcc.gov

For Immediate Release

FCC ENFORCEMENT BUREAU WARNS PROPERTY OWNERS AND
MANAGERS OF SIGNIFICANT NEW FINANCIAL PENALTIES FOR
ALLOWING ILLEGAL BROADCASTING ON THEIR PROPERTY

Notice Could Precede Fines of Up to $2 Million Under the PIRATE Act

WASHINGTON, December 17, 2020—The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau today announced it
has begun targeting property owners and managers that knowingly tolerate pirate broadcasting
on their properties, exercising the Commission’s new authority under the recently enacted
PIRATE Act. Parties that knowingly facilitate illegal broadcasting on their property are liable
for fines of up to $2 million.

“Pirate radio is illegal and can interfere with not only legitimate broadcast stations’ business
activities but also those stations’ ability to inform the public about emergency information,”
said Rosemary Harold, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. “It is unacceptable – and plainly
illegal under the new law – for landlords and property managers to simply opt to ignore pirate
radio operations. Once they are aware of these unauthorized broadcasts, they must take steps
to stop it from continuing in their buildings or at other sites they own or control. If they do not
do so, they risk receiving a heavy fine, followed by collection action in court if they do not pay
it. In addition, our enforcement actions will be made public, which may create further
unforeseen business risks.”

Under the new authority, the Enforcement Bureau will provide written notice to property
owners and managers the agency has reason to believe are turning a blind eye to – or even
helping facilitate – illegal broadcasting. These new Notices of Illegal Pirate Radio
Broadcasting also will afford parties a period of time to remedy the problem before any
enforcement action moves forward. In the first such notices, issued today to property owners
regarding their buildings in New York City, the respective parties were given 10 days to
respond. The Bureau will consider any response before taking further action.

Commission investigations have found that landlords and property managers too often are
aware of this illegal activity taking place on their premises. The Commission has previously
sent warnings to landlords and even sought cooperation from national property owners’
organizations in raising awareness. With pirate broadcasts persisting despite these efforts,
Congress took action and empowered the Commission to penalize property owners and
managers that knowingly permit pirate broadcasters to remain operating from the landlord’s
buildings or unbuilt areas. Landlords and property managers also may be found liable if a
pirate station ceases operation for some period of time but later resumes at the same site.

Separately, the Enforcement Bureau and the Office of the Managing Director also released
today an Order amending the Commission’s rules to implement the new enforcement authority
granted by Congress through section 2 of the PIRATE Act, as codified in 47 U.S.C. § 511.
Notices of Illegal Pirate Radio Broadcasting are available at:

Notice: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-368827A1.pdf
Notice: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-368817A1.pdf
Notice: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-368826A1.pdf

The PIRATE Act is available at: https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ109/PLAW116publ109.pdf.

###

Media Relations: (202) 418-0500 / ASL: (844) 432-2275 / Twitter: @FCC / www.fcc.gov
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC, 515 F.2d 385 (D.C. Cir. 1974).

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PIRATE Act signed into law by President

Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash

(Source: The White House)

On Friday, January 24, 2020, the President signed into law:

H.R. 583, the “Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act” or the “PIRATE Act,” which authorizes enhanced penalties for pirate radio broadcasters and requires the Federal Communications Commission to increase enforcement activities; and

H.R. 2476, the “Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2019,” which authorizes within the Department of Homeland Security a Nonprofit Security Grant Program to make grants to eligible nonprofit organizations for target hardening and other security enhancements to protect against terrorist attacks.

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PIRATE Act passes Senate

(Source: Radio World via Marty)

“Opponents of illegal broadcasting scored a major and long-anticipated victory today: The Senate (finally) unanimously passed the PIRATE Act Wednesday.

Short for “Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement,” only one hurdle remains for S.R. 1228: President Trump’s desk.

The legislation also represents a coup for FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who has championed the anti-piracy enforcement actions recently.

In response to the act’s Senate passage, National Association of Broadcasters President/CEO Gordon Smith said, ‘This legislation provides stronger resources to help the FCC combat illegal pirate radio operations, which not only interfere with licensed radio stations but also public safety communications and air traffic control systems. We look forward to the President signing the PIRATE Act into law.’”[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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The Verge: “Who’s afraid of the PIRATE Act? Not Joan Martinez”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who shares this article from The Verge:

When she was growing up in East Flatbush among the Haitian diaspora, former pirate broadcaster Joan Martinez — no relation to the New York radio legend Angie Martinez, despite what Joan claimed to her friends as a youth — said that the sounds of pirate radio were the backdrop to her childhood. “Starting Friday night, all throughout the weekend, you would just hear all these like crazy DJs just talking and all this music,” Martinez says. Her parents’ apartment was the meeting spot for her whole family, a place where they’d reminisce about being in Haiti. They needed a place that felt like home. Martinez says that, as a kid, she never understood why the stations they listened to only broadcast on the weekends. As she got older, there were fewer of them — and then in 2010, she says, they started to come back online.

Martinez got into the scene as a broadcaster after her mother turned down an offer to be a DJ at a pirate station. “She was like, ‘No, I don’t want to. However, I do have a daughter that did study broadcasting in college,’” — Joan — “and then all of a sudden they were like, ‘We want her. Like, can we bring her in here?’” Martinez went. It was 2010. Her first job was as an anchor, where she talked through the news from the Caribbean and New York City. Then she filled in for a couple of high school girls who had their own show — and eventually took the spot over completely. It was a talk show she did with her friends for a year and a half, until Martinez decided to go back to school. (“It was a pretty live show. Sometimes things get a little raunchy, sometimes things get a little too crazy and it’s like, I don’t want to piss off my supervisor,” she says. Pirates have org charts and standards, too.)

After school, she went back, but not for very long; academia pulled her back in, and today, she’s in grad school, currently at work on her thesis. “I was doing pirate for a good five years and then when I got into grad school, since the coursework was becoming very time consuming, I had to kind of let that go,” Martinez says, adding that she’s mostly involved these days in an administrative, consulting way. “However, you know, I still keep my fingers in their pot.”[…]

Continue reading the full article at The Verge.

The Flat Bush area of Brooklyn, NY, is the cultural center of the FM Pirate Radio Scene. Check out David Goren’s Brookly Pirate Radio Soundmap to dive in deeper!

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Pirate Radio: FCC Enforcement focuses on small markets

(Source: Tom Taylor Now)

The FCC’s busting more pirates in smaller markets.

True, the Dallas office issues two Notices of Unlicensed Operation for an 87.9 in Houston, run out of New Beginnings Fellowship Church. But agents from Dallas also found a pirate FM at 93.5 up in the smallish Texas Panhandle town of Amarillo. (That one was also operated out of a church, the Iglesia Bautista Renovacion Ministerio Internacional.) The spectrum cops from Dallas also detected a 95.9 in Port Arthur, Texas. And out in California, agents from the L.A. office ventured up to Oxnard to respond to a complaint about a 99.1 operating from a business. (It was a business run by Maria Gonzalez, who gets the NOUO.) So while the traditional pirate radio hotbeds in South Florida, the New York City area and Boston get attention, there seem to be more complaints and more investigations in smaller markets. If the “PIRATE Act” that passed the House ever makes it through the Senate and is signed into law, the FCC would be required to make twice-yearly sweeps of the five most active areas for pirates. But it seems illegal FMs may simply be popping up in less-likely places. The equipment’s cheap and you might not get caught. Though one pirate in Miami got nabbed doing something novel – operating a pirate station out of a parked RV. (Sure keeps the costs down.)

Click here to read at Tom Taylor Now.

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FCC Commissioner pushing for aggressive pirate radio enforcement

Many thanks to an SWLing Post contributor who shares this FCC PDF document: Remarks of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly Before the 2017 Hispanic Radio Conference, Fort Lauderdale, Florida March 28, 2017.

Note O’Rielly’s remarks regarding pirate radio enforcement in the south Florida radio market:

“Many of you may have heard me speak before about pirate radio, a huge problem here in South Florida and one that has a disproportionate impact on the Hispanic radio community. The failure to properly address it highlights a deficiency in the Commission’s enforcement tools and undermines our overall credibility. Today, these squatters are infecting the radio band at the expense of listeners of legitimate radio stations, causing great harm to emergency preparedness within covered areas and undercutting the financial stability of licensed radio stations, your stations.

To that point, I could use your assistance in batting down arguments that pirate radio stations are somehow training grounds for those seeking to enter the field or that these “stations” bring a unique service to primarily minority communities, and therefore should be left alone. Few people actually have your background, experience, and history of serving these important communities, so your voice and words would be a welcome rejoinder to these baseless claims.

On my part, just this morning, I spent some time with the FCC’s Miami Field Office to ring the figurative fire alarm on overall efforts to combat pirate radio stations. Quite frankly, I sought answers on why these stations weren’t already eradicated. In particular, I discussed their recent enforcement actions in this market, what obstacles they face in expediting cases, and what additional authority may be of assistance. I also raised the issue of whether the ability to seize pirate equipment found in common areas could aid their efforts. In addition, we discussed whether our current fines should be increased, and if imposing penalties on those that directly and intentionally facilitate pirate stations could be helpful. It was a very positive meeting, and I walked away with renewed belief that the Miami Team was up to the task. But, they are also on notice that I expect to see this situation addressed quickly and sufficiently.”

Click here to read Commissioner O’Reilly’s full remarks (PDF).

In addition, this reader notes a new job posting with the FCC for an enforcement officer:

https://fcc.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/466088000/

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