Fifty State Broadcasters Associations Urge PIRATE Act Passage

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The 50 state broadcast associations and the National Association of Broadcasters yesterday asked the U.S. Senate take action against unauthorized, i.e., “pirate” radio broadcasters. The Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement (PIRATE)  (S. 1228) would provide the FCC with new enforcement measures to combat pirate radio operations. Companion legislation passed the House in February.

“For years unauthorized pirate radio stations have harmed communities across the country by undermining the Emergency Alert System, interfering with airport communications, posing direct health risks and interfering with licensed stations’ abilities to serve their listeners,” say the broadcasters in the letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “We are reaching the point where illegal pirate stations undermine the legitimacy and purpose of the FCC’s licensing system to the detriment of listeners in communities across the country. The PIRATE Act will help the FCC restore integrity to the system,” the broadcasters said.

The PIRATE Act provides the authority to levy increased fines up to $100,000 per violation and $2,000,000 in total. The legislation streamlines the enforcement process and requires the FCC to conduct pirate radio enforcement sweeps in cities with a concentration of pirate radio stations.

The measure recognizes the importance of FCC coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement authorities. Finally, the bill would create a database of all licensed radio stations operating in the AM and FM bands as well as those that have been subject to enforcement actions for illegal operation.

May 8, 2019

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