LPFM Legislation Redux; Taking Initiative at the State Level

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) plans to reintroduce a bill (which died of inaction last session) that would expand the FCC’s LPFM service back out to its original parameters as defined in 2000. She’s released a statement touting the initiative as a plus for media diversity (though she’s off by a week on LPFM’s fifth birthday, but that’s just nitpicking).

However, the more exciting legislative action seems to be taking place at the state level. Although state broadcast lobbies in Florida and New Jersey are criminalizing unlicensed broadcasting, there is a new push afoot in another state (which will remain nameless so as to keep the lobbyists at bay for as long as possible) to enact legislation that would put control of broadcast radio stations whose signals do not cross a state line under the control of that state’s regulator of public utilities. Read More

Florida War on Pirates: Mobilizing the Troops

On Tuesday “more than 50 radio managers and owners gathered…at a meeting of the Florida Sheriffs Association at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood,” according to the Miami Herald. “Their goal: To plot strategy on taking small-time, illegal operators off the air.”

The Broward County Sheriff’s office claims to have shut down “a dozen stations in the past 18 months,” while an estimated three dozen remain on the air in south Florida. “It takes ruthless, local law enforcement tactics,” said Sheriff’s Captain Larry DeFuria. At least two attorneys from the Florida Association of Broadcasters were also present at the meeting, undoubtedly for purposes of coaching the best ways to apply the smackdown. Read More

Florida: Pirate Radio Attracts Bounty Hunters

Meet Signal Finder – a Florida company founded by engineers with experience at Clear Channel and Motorola. For an hourly fee it tracks pirate stations and provides detailed reports on their signal quality, strength, and interference potential (relative to the client). It’s an FCC enforcement action wrapped with a bow.

Key bit: “The commission has been quiet about Signal Finder’s efforts to this point, [Signal Finder vice president Steven] Grey said. ‘One FCC enforcement officer told me that having us pinpoint a pirate could expedite the process. However, they still need to do their complete investigation. That leaves our clients the option of taking action against unlicensed broadcasters in civil court,’ he said.” Read More

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