Test Cases for Florida’s Anti-Pirate Law

Two men were arrested on the last day of June for running unlicensed stations in Broward County, Florida. They’re being charged with felonies under a new state law and face up to five years in prison. A pirate-busting sheriff’s detective seems pleased with his handiwork, but it’s been nearly a year since the law went on the books and this is the first action to speak of. Signal Finder, those pirate-hunters for hire – are not making out like they’d hoped.

A pending petition from the American Radio Relay League to the FCC, which asks the agency to declare the Florida law null and void (by federal preemption) may not be ruled on for several more months. Perhaps the state will rush its prosecution in hopes of beating the FCC to a resolution. The south Florida scene has certainly transcended microbroadcasting, sounding like a little slice of London – if not so much on the air then in the modus operandi.

St. Petersburg’s Pirate Radio Network Down But Not Out

Bob Noxious has two brass ones: after a scant two months on the air and scads of publicity to show for it, the FCC showed up the day before April Fool’s and told him to shut up. He has complied – for now –

Although we will have to endure a short time of static on the radio, we won’t be silenced for long. Thanks to modern technology…when the PIRATE RADIO NETWORK returns, [the station] will be broadcast from MULTIPLE transmitters in numerous locations throughout the area. Not only will that expand the listening area, but it will be with a much crisper and cleaner signal. Lets see how many transmitters the F.C.C. can shut down at one time! Read More

Scene Report: Florida

Amateurs on the offensive: The American Radio Relay League has formally petitioned the FCC to nullify Florida’s anti-pirate law passed last year. Not because hams like pirates, but because they’re afraid the law’s so broadly written that any amateur who inadvertently interferes could be branded a criminal. ARRL’s 10-page Request for Declaratory Ruling is an excellent encapsulation of the legislative and judicial history for why laws like Florida’s shouldn’t be on the books.

Meanwhile, some clenching reporter from a Fort Myers TV station put together an “exposé” of a local hip-hop pirate station using indecency as a hook, complete with bleeped clips and the shocked reaction of a (white) mother’s face after she tuning in for the cameras. The reporter, with help from a local commercial radio station worried about the pirate’s effect on its listenership, went so far as to track down the transmission location. It also calls use of the internet as STL a growing trend.

Religious Broadcasting As Franchise Operation

While the proliferation of FM translator stations by religious broadcast groups arguably constitutes spectrum abuse, it’s just one perspective on a larger problem. Religious broadcasters are not only snapping up translator channels on which real community LPFM stations might have been sited, they’re also engaged in LPFM broadcasting.

A recent SF Chronicle story illustrates how Calvary Chapel organizes LPFM station affiliate growth:

This month, the Calvary Chapel Radio Ministry of Costa Mesa in Orange County hosted 170 mostly Christian low-power broadcasters, offering them operational tips as well as up to “16 hours per day, seven days a week” of programming beamed in via satellite, according to its Web site. Read More