Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko of New York reintroduced the PIRATE ACT Wednesday with Republican co-sponsor Congressman Gus Bilirakis of Florida. The legislation would increase penalties for anyone caught engaging in unlawful radio broadcasting. The bill is similar to the bill introduced in 2018, however the original Republican co-sponsor of the bill was not re-elected. Tonko says part of the reason he’s a supporter of the bill has to do with protecting children.
In a statement about the PIRATE ACT, Tonko said, “Protecting our public airwaves is critical for preserving community safety, whether for first responders or for working parents who don’t want to expose their children to uncontrolled hate and obscenity. Whether a frequency is being used in emergencies to coordinate community response and save lives or by parents who just want to tune their car radios with their kids in the car, our communities are better served when broadcasting is governed by the rule of law. I am hopeful that my new House colleagues will join in support of the PIRATE Act and we can pass this commonsense legislation without delay.”
The NAB believes the PIRATE ACT has a good chance of being approved by both The House and The Senate and signed by President Trump. NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton said, “Unlicensed radio stations are not merely a nuisance to legitimate radio broadcasters who play by the rules. They also pose a threat to public safety by disrupting communications between air traffic controllers and airline pilots. We strongly urge bipartisan support of the PIRATE Act and we look forward to its swift passage.”
Congressman Bilirakis said these pirate radio operators are hurting the economy and they need to be stopped. “This bill will give teeth to enforcement of illegal radio operators by hitting them in their pocketbook and better stop these illegal actors for good.”
The PIRATE Act stands for Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act. The bill is nearly identical to legislation of the same name that passed the House last year. It has been assigned the new designation H.R. 583 for the new legislative session.