A weak piece in the Palm Beach Post celebrates the fact that the only thing standing between local whoop-ass and unlicensed broadcasters is the pen of Governor Jeb Bush. Florida Association of Broadcasters president C. Patrick Roberts gloats over the nearly-complete rout:
“Now the sheriff’s office, working with state attorneys, can also move to protect the airwaves, protect the emergency messages that go out, and protect the airplanes flying across Florida.”
Concerns have belatedly been raised about just how far local authorities, at the behest of licensed broadcasters, will take this new power. Will they target amateur radio operators who might inadvertently interfere with someone but otherwise probably do more, on balance, to serve the public interest than licensed broadcasters? What about users of the Citizens Band? Or Part 15-style “yardcasters,” or – heaven forbid – LPFM licensees?
At what point will the local constabulary get involved, and what is the level of violation necessary to invoke the maximum sentence of 5 years in prison? Just how integral will licensed broadcasters be in the direction of prosecution? In the worst case, might licensed broadcasters abuse their mastery of radio frequency theory to send the local constabulary after “egregious violators” who might not be so egregious?
Too late. Good luck!