Tag Archives: PIRATE Act

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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FCC hope to hire Pirate Radio hunters

Photo by Ben Koorengevel

(Source: Inside Radio)

Broadcasters would likely call it money well-spent, but it’s still cash coming from the federal government’s hands. The Federal Communications Commission estimates it will cost the agency at least $11 million to enforce the newly-adopted law that requires it to step up pirate radio enforcement. “Specifically, in order to combat the problem of illegal radio operations, the statute requires a sweeping process that will require new equipment and a substantial number of additional field agents to implement fully,” FCC Chair Ajit Pai told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee during a hearing on Tuesday. Pai said he hoped congressional budget writers would determine a “reasonable funding level” for the FCC that reflects that added cost, suggesting the agency’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year should be raised to $354 million.

Signed into law by President Trump last month, the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act, or “PIRATE” Act (S.1228) was unanimously approved by both the Senate and House. The new law raises fines on unlicensed station operators to $100,000 per day per violation, up to a maximum of $2 million. In addition to tougher fines on violators, the FCC would also be required to conduct sweeps in the five cities where pirate radio is the biggest problem—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas—at least once a year. And then, within six months, field agents would be mandated to return to those markets to conduct “monitoring sweeps” to determine whether the unlicensed operators simply powered back up or changed frequencies. The agency would also be required to issue a report to Congress on an annual basis about its pirate-fighting efforts.

Pai told the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee that the FCC is already gearing up for implementing the new law. “We are submitting a formal amendment to the Office of Management and Budget concerning costs associated with the full implementation of the PIRATE Act,” said Pai.[…]

Continue reading the full article at Inside Radio.

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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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Full text of the PIRATE Act (H.R.5709)

Photo by Michael Maasen

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ulis (K3LU), who shares a link to the full text of the H.R.5709 – PIRATE Act–a bill to “amend the Communications Act of 1934 to provide for enhanced penalties for pirate radio, and for other purposes.”

Here’s an excerpt from the preface of the bill:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act” or the “PIRATE Act”.

SEC. 2. PIRATE RADIO ENFORCEMENT ENHANCEMENTS.

Title V of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 501 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

“SEC. 511. ENHANCED PENALTIES FOR PIRATE RADIO BROADCASTING; ENFORCEMENT SWEEPS; REPORTING.

“(a) Increased General Penalty.—Any person who willfully and knowingly does or causes or suffers to be done any pirate radio broadcasting shall be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000,000.

“(b) Violation Of This Act, Rules, Or Regulations.—Any person who willfully and knowingly violates this Act or any rule, regulation, restriction, or condition made or imposed by the Commission under authority of this Act, or any rule, regulation, restriction, or condition made or imposed by any international radio or wire communications treaty or convention, or regulations annexed thereto, to which the United States is or may hereafter become party, relating to pirate radio broadcasting shall, in addition to any other penalties provided by law, be subject to a fine of not more than $100,000 for each day during which such offense occurs, in accordance with the limit described in subsection (a).

“(c) Facilitation.—Any person who knowingly and intentionally facilitates pirate radio broadcasting shall be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000,000.

“(d) Annual Report.—Not later than one year after the date of enactment of the PIRATE Act, and annually thereafter, the Commission shall submit to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation a report summarizing the implementation of this section and associated enforcement activities for the previous fiscal year, which may include the efforts by the Commission to enlist the cooperation of Federal, State, and local law enforcement personnel (including United States Attorneys and the United States Marshals Service) for service of process, collection of fines or forfeitures, seizures of equipment, and enforcement of orders.

“(e) Enforcement Sweeps.—

“(1) ANNUAL SWEEPS.—Not less than once each year, the Commission shall assign appropriate enforcement personnel to focus specific and sustained attention on the elimination of pirate radio broadcasting within the top five radio markets identified as prevalent for such broadcasts. Such effort shall include identifying, locating, and taking enforcement actions designed to terminate such operations.

“(2) ADDITIONAL MONITORING.—Within six months after conducting the enforcement sweeps required by paragraph (1), the Commission shall conduct monitoring sweeps to ascertain whether the pirate radio broadcasting identified by enforcement sweeps is continuing to broadcast and whether additional pirate radio broadcasting is occurring.

“(3) NO EFFECT ON REMAINING ENFORCEMENT.—Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the Commission shall not decrease or diminish the regular enforcement efforts targeted to pirate radio broadcast stations for other times of the year.

“(f) State And Local Government Authority.—The Commission may not preempt any State or local law prohibiting pirate radio broadcasting.

“(g) Revision Of Commission Rules Required.—The Commission shall revise its rules to require that, absent good cause, in any case alleging a violation of subsection (a) or (b), the Commission shall proceed directly to issue a ‘Notice of Apparent Liability’ without first issuing a ‘Notice of Unlicensed Operations’.

“(h) Pirate Radio Broadcasting Database.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this section, and semi-annually thereafter, the Commission shall publish a database in a clear and legible format of all licensed radio stations operating in the AM and FM bands. The database shall be easily accessible from the Commission home page through a direct link. The database shall include the following information:

“(A) Each licensed station, listed by the assigned frequency, channel number, or Commission call letters.

“(B) All entities that have received a Notice of Unlicensed Operation, Notice of Apparent Liability, or Forfeiture Order by the Commission.

“(2) CLEAR IDENTIFICATION.—The Commission shall clearly identify in the database—

“(A) each licensed station as a station licensed by the Commission; and

“(B) each entity described in paragraph (1)(B) as operating without a Commission license or authorization.

“(i) Definitions.—In this section:

“(1) PIRATE RADIO BROADCASTING.—The term ‘pirate radio broadcasting’ means the transmission of communications on spectrum frequencies between 535 to 1705 kHz or 87.7 to 108 MHz without a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission, but does not include unlicensed operations in compliance with part 15 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations.

“(2) FACILITATES.—The term ‘facilitates’ means providing access to property (and improvements thereon) or providing physical goods or services, including providing housing, facilities, or financing, that directly aid pirate radio broadcasting.

“(3) KNOWINGLY AND INTENTIONALLY.—The term ‘knowingly and intentionally’ means the person was previously served by the Commission with a notice of unlicensed operations, notice of apparent liability, or citation for efforts to facilitate pirate radio broadcasting.”.

Click here to read the full bill at Congress.gov.

Click here to download the bill as a PDF.

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