FCC Enforcement: Old and New

A much-overdue update to the Enforcement Action Database is done. So far in 2011, the FCC has conducted less than 100 enforcement actions – way down from this time last year, when 359 were already on the books.

The major changes to this year’s enforcement trends include an apparent stiffening of fiscal penalties and a diversification of enforcement across all broadcast bands. On the first point, the FCC seems to be increasing fines from the base-penalty of $10,000. Not that this actually works as a deterrent: in cases where an unlicensed broadcaster demonstrates an inability to pay, fines must be radically reduced. Read More

FCC Enforcement: Shortwave on Radar?

The Enforcement Action Database continues to show a relatively lackadaisical year of pirate-hunting shaping up: just 35 actions through mid-April.

Should the trend continue, enforcement activity against unlicensed broadcasters may approach levels not seen since 2005-06, the start of the FCC’s post-LPFM station-hunting campaign. This would signify a significant shift and could be indicative of strategic revisions involving the agency’s spectrum enforcement priorities more generally. Read More

Sampling Shortwave With Ease Online

The shortwave pirate broadcast community is significantly small enough that most station operators are friends with one another, though the frequency of station broadcasts over the last year has, at times, been high enough that some have accidentally clashed signals. The FCC has not taken a documented enforcement action against a shortwave pirate since 1998, which has also led to the proliferation of stations. This long run of heavy activity has resulted in an increase in the shortwave listening community.

However, shortwave listening may not be for everyone. Audio quality on shortwave can leave a lot to be desired, and in many cases the pirates broadcasting are so weak (less than 100 watts) that hardcore listeners have to endure lots of static and noise, if only to hear a snippet of a show. Read More

Kulpsville Pirate Retrospective; N$X Demo Available

Thanks to Ragnar for recording a session from this year’s Winterfest gathering called the Year in Pirate Radio” (1:01:48, 21.3 MB). After a somewhat sparse summary of 2005 activity on the AM, FM and shortwave bands, Allan Weiner commandeers the mic and takes questions from the audience. He offers up some interesting observations on the FCC, his offshore pirate escapades, and what it’s like to run a 50,000-watt shortwave station.

In Florida, Rayon Payne aka N$X has established a new web site which includes a complete copy of his demo CD called “Unfinished Bizness,” which intersperses interview clips with material from the pirate days of yore. He’s still on the hunt for an open mic on this side of the law, and he’s still thinking big.

Social Forum Threatens its Broadcast Voice; Sounds of Shortwave Restored

The basic story is here, but this is the synopsis: the annual World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brasil is in full swing. The Forum had an “official” radio station broadcasting from the events, but that was apparently hijacked by NGOs, sucking the community right out of what was to be a community radio project. So a “people’s station” was established, with volunteers from all over the world donating gear and time to making it work. The official station’s burned out two transmitters – so “The Other Radio FM” happens to be the sole voice of the Forum. Read More