Pai: 306 Pirates Are Being Investigated


At the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Chairman Ajit Pai updated broadcasters on the FCC’s continued crackdown on unlicensed radio stations. Pai promised he would keep the pressure on pirate operators and his FCC certainly has.

Since January 2017, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has launched 306 pirate-radio investigations and has issued 210 Notices of Unlicensed Operation, a 101% increase in enforcement against pirates compared to 2016. The Commission has also issued $143,800 and proposed fines totaling $323,688.

Pai went on to say the FCC has gotten creative in its efforts to keep the pressure on the pirates. “For the first time, the FCC last year found property owners apparently liable for supporting this illegal activity on their property. In proposing the statutory maximum forfeiture, we want to make clear that aiding a pirate’s unauthorized use of the radio spectrum won’t be tolerated. We also successfully reached a consent decree with a pirate radio operator that involved the pirate closing up shop and paying a fine.”

And Pai also mentioned the FCC’s work with U.S. Attorney’s and the U.S. Marshals to seize transmitters and other equipment used by pirate radio stations. “Just a little over two weeks ago, on March 26, federal authorities seized radio transmission equipment from two radio stations that were operating illegally in Boston. Today, I can report that we recently took similar action against a pirate operator in Miami and another operator in Queens, New York.”


  1. A bigger question is how long is the commission going to allow illegal FM transmitters to be sold on venues such as ebay and Amazon? There’s also another site that lists a 1.2 FM transmitter under a “hobby” category and that is simply irresponsible! Instead of the FCC wasting time and our taxes playing whack-a-mole with pirates why not just make it harder for these stations to get on the air in the first place? Already on the books are Title 47 C.F.R. Section 2.803(a)(1), Title 47 C.F.R. Section 2.925(a)(1) and Title 47 C.F.R Section 302(a) which would allow the FCC to fine these online venues and prohibit their sale of these products. I had mentioned it to several FCC officials but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

    As both a broadcast engineer and someone who champions legal, unlicensed broadcasting under Part 15 regulations I applaud their efforts in trying to clean up the mess. The FCC needs to limit the availability of these transmitters from the marketplace to do any good. Many of they fail to generate a spectrally pure signal, causing interference not only to licensed stations on the band but can cause problems in adjacent portions of the spectrum.

  2. But what Pai hasn’t told us is how many of these fines have been actually paid. 1 Consent decree out of how many busts? Lol. He likes to make himself appear as the hero to corporates but in reality he is all for show with words as big as his mouth looks.


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