FCC Enforcement: Questionably Redundant and Retributive

Two-thirds of 2012 is in the can, and the FCC seems to be adhering to its “new normal” when it comes to pirate radio enforcement. Field agents have conducted 183 enforcement actions as of the end of August – this is up from the 132 actions logged by this time a year ago, but well off the year-over-year record-breaking enforcement pace set between 2006 and 2010.

The FCC’s been involved in anti-pirate enforcement activity in 15 states and Puerto Rico so far this year, as opposed to more than two dozen states by this point in 2011. The hottest spots continue to be the New York metropolitan area as well as the state of Florida more generally. Read More

New York Sanctions Pirate-Hunting

On June 20, the New York state legislature passed a bill criminalizing unlicensed broadcasting. The measure apparently passed the state Assembly by acclimation and cleared the Senate on a unanimous vote. Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill with little fanfare. This is the fourth time an anti-pirate bill has been considered by New York’s lawmakers.

The new law makes it a class A misdemeanor to broadcast without an FCC license in the AM and FM bands, with penalties ranging from heavy fines to (very unlikely) up to a year in jail. Subsequent run-ins with the FCC or state may be prosecuted as a class D felony, which is punishable by a fine ranging between $500-$7,500 and imprisonment of up to five years. Read More

New York Next to “Outlaw” Pirate Radio

The New York state legislature is considering a bill to make unlicensed broadcasting a class D felony, punishable with possible (undefined) imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. The bill would call foul on any broadcaster without an FCC license and/or accused of causing interference to another radio station.

Good luck with that. New York is a major hotbed of pirate radio activity in the United States, topping the perennial pirate radio capital of the nation (Florida) for the first time just last year. Read More

Enforcement Action Database Cracks 1,000 Actions

Just caught up on the FCC’s last two months of activity. It’s been a busy winter: 274 enforcement actions for 2006 and counting.

This includes fines, or threats of fines, of $10,000 against the transmitter-hosts of both microstations in San Diego, though escalating the enforcement process up to that level of severity remains mostly outside the FCC’s standard protocol (in related news, the agency’s Inspector General is planning an audit of its regulatory fee-collection process, something not done since 1999). Read More

Pirates Rebroadcast Howard Stern in NY, NJ

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.” Read More