However, instead of hitting up the cops first, the NJBA plans to deputize the audience directly, via “a series of Radio announcements alerting listeners to this new law, and what to do if a pirate station interferes with their favorite local station.” These I’ve gotta hear.
This week Howard Stern‘s empire evolved to a new level when he debuted his new program on the Sirius satellite radio network. Howard’s departure from the realm of terrestrial broadcasting caused much consternation. Fear not, for pirate radio is keeping Stern alive on the airwaves: the New York Daily News reports that two pirate stations aired uncensored segments of “Howard 100” on FM frequencies in Brooklyn, New York and the Newark/Secaucus, New Jersey area.
Several pirates operate throughout the NYC metroplex; the article quotes a commercial station‘s program director on the subject: “You’d like to catch them, but it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, they come and go.”
The New Jersey state Senate voted 38-0 Monday to make unlicensed broadcasting a fourth-degree felony. Conviction can result in 18 months prison time and $10,000 in fines. The state Assembly passed an identical bill last March; acting governor Richard Codey is expected to sign without comment.
Shortly after Florida criminalized pirate radio in 2004, the state broadcasters’ association held special training for law enforcement officials on how to track and bust unlicensed stations. I guess we can expect a repeat performance in the Garden State.
It’s been nine months since the American Radio Relay League formally requested the FCC void a statute implemented in Florida last year that criminalized unlicensed broadcasting. The agency’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau is supposed to do the deliberation. So far, no word.
The FCC’s in a sticky situation. Pirate radio activity in Florida is off the charts compared to the rest of the country – way, way more than the FCC field offices in Tampa and Miami can handle. So they would prefer to look the other way while state officials clean up the AM and FM dials: the chief of the Tampa office has already said as much.
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.