U.S. Representative Leonard Lance of New Jersey introduced a bill to Congress on Tuesday to fight illegal pirate radio operators. The PIRATE Act, ‘‘Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act’’ calls for an increased penalty of up to $2,000,000 for anyone convicted of operating a pirate station across the nation. The legislation also mandates the FCC to perform “Pirate Sweeps” no less than twice a year in the country’s top five radio markets to uncover pirate radio operations.
New Jersey Broadcasters Association President & CEO Paul Rotella said, “This is a significant national enhancement of penalty and enforcement for those who would violate our airwaves and should give such offenders pause. The NJBA has been advancing this initiative for many years now and Congressman Lance has championed this legislation in an effort to protect communities from the harmful and potentially life-threatening consequences of the many illegal pirates operating in or near New Jersey.”
New York State Broadcasters Association President David Donovan added, “For too long the citizens of New York have endured the harm caused by illegal pirate radio stations. These stations: 1) interfere with the Emergency Alert System (EAS); 2) interfere with FAA and airport communications; 3) emit levels of RF radiation into local neighborhoods that are above government standards; 3) ignore all consumer protection laws; and 4) blatantly transgress all FCC rules and regulations. We strongly support the PIRATE Act. The PIRATE Act will give the FCC the tools to protect consumers and take illegal pirate operators off the air. We look forward to working with the bill’s 14 initial co-sponsors as well as other members of the House and Senate to move forward with this important legislation.”
NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton said, “NAB thanks Reps. Leonard Lance, Paul Tonko, Chris Collins and their fellow cosponsors for the bipartisan introduction of the PIRATE Act, which provides the FCC with enhanced penalties and additional tools to take action against illegal pirate radio operations. Pirate radio is a real threat to public health and safety, causes interference to legal radio broadcasts and flouts the rule of law.”
Rotella said most people do not understand the danger pirate radio operators put the public in through their illegal transmissions. “These pirate radio stations cause interference to the Emergency Alert System, and FAA frequencies that could interfere with airline communications and also create excessive, unmeasured RF radiation to residents and businesses in the buildings they operate in, which may present significant health concerns.
Wharton also gave a shout out to the FCC. “Broadcasters also thank FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly for his longstanding leadership on this issue, and Chairman Ajit Pai and his Enforcement Bureau staff’s commitment to pirate radio enforcement. NAB strongly supports this legislation to provide greater enforcement tools to the Commission and will work with members of Congress in the House and Senate on its swift passage.”
Rotella concluded, “The NJBA applauds Congressman Lance’s insight in recognizing the harm caused by pirate radio stations and for his determined and thoughtful approach to rectifying this hazardous and unacceptable condition with his proposed legislation.”
You can read the bill HERE.