Hams Consider Challenge to Florida’s Anti-Pirate Law

Although it went down with little public notice or debate, a challenge is mounting to the state of Florida’s criminalization of unlicensed broadcasting. The new state law threatens up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for anyone who interferes with a licensed radio system (broadcast or otherwise).

The law was admittedly tailored to attack Florida’s pirate station “infestation,” but the potential to lock people up for causing interference has also apparently alarmed some in Florida’s amateur radio community as well. They feel that opening up radio regulation to entities beyond the federal level constitutes a slippery slope that in the long run may do more harm than good to the FCC’s overall enforcement authority. Read More

Pirate Radio in Florida: Nothing Left But the Gnashing of Teeth

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.” Read More

Two Weeks Post-Sweep: They’re Back

DJ Johnny Nitro, “a pissed off micro broadcaster with no frequency left to broadcast on,” reports that the Haitian and Jamaican pirate stations raided in the Ft. Lauderdale, FL area earlier this month are back on the air.

Nitro’s not happy with these folks because they run massive power (easily several hundred watts, even up into the four-digit range) and massive commercials: “they play more commercials then some of the clear channel station[s] and are in it for the cash.”

Criminalization of Pirate Radio in Florida Nearly Complete

Somewhat whimsical articles in various Florida outlets celebrate the state Senate’s 30-8 passage Thursday of a bill making unlicensed broadcasting a felonious crime. Amendments to lower the penalty to something more reasonable failed. This is likely to be law by the end of the week or weekend; the bill is already engrossed in the state House.

Interestingly enough, this legislation initially began as an effort to set up a state prosecutorial agency for organized crime, to which the anti-pirate radio police role was tacked on. The final version of the bill only criminalizes pirate radio – everything else disappeared. Read More

Florida State Senate Begins Debate on Anti-Pirate Bill

Interesting developments on the drive to criminalize pirate radio in Florida. Amendments have been filed to the legislation pending in the state Senate that would reduce the severity of the “crime” of unlicensed broadcasting from a third-degree felony to a first-degree misdemeanor. One version failed on second reading yesterday. Another (pending) amendment would punish first-time pirates with misdemeanors and treat repeat offenders as felons.

Still no news from those whose job it is to report it, save a little blurb in the Tampa Tribune. It should be noted that this bill is not solely about pirate radio stations: it actually creates something called the “Office of Statewide Prosecution,” whose primary job will be to go after organized crime in general. The mandate to hunt pirate radio stations is tacked on – as all good special-interest favors usually are.