Pirate Act Gets New Life In Congress


    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.


    1. I have a HUGE issue with this: No mention was addressed about Legal Part 15 AM section 219 transmitters that will go 1/5-2 miles at its Legal. Transmitters like the Rangemaster and Procaster, Talking House (with the newly coming RAT 1.0 will travel 1-1.5 miles easily to a good portable Radio that has a decent AM section.

      FM is a different sort of animal whereas there are plenty of illegal transmitters sold on Amazon, Ebay, and several places that one would think would not sell anything illegal to the public. I watched a Youtube video whereas a parent bought a very young man a transmitter and he began broadcasting to the neighborhood at 1-2 miles on his illegal FM transmitter (unknown to many).

      AM is a Dying Band many car Radios no longer have A on them and most folks forgot AM so eliminating legal transmitters to go 1-2 miles is an abuse of power to the Radio monopolies. Those that broadcast bad language should be dealt with individually (case-by-case) but don’t punish those who just want to have a little fun on AM from 1620-1700 Khz and some (Like Myself) broadcast in C-Quam AM Stereo which continues to make AM a better band to listen to and legally.

    2. Maybe these politicians should look into the kind of people who are operating pirate stations and why so many such stations exist. In NYC, almost all pirates are on FM, operate commercially, and serve ethnic communities that are unserved by the corporate stations that monopolize the radio dial since the 1996 Telecom Act became law. Many of the pirates in New York broadcast in Spanish, Russian, or Haitian Creole, filling niches left unfilled by corporate radio. Yes, there are licensed Spanish-language stations in NYC, but these are as stereotyped and stale as their English-language counterparts. Those pirates that use English do so with a Caribbean accent.
      Want to get rid of pirate radio? Break up the corporate oligopoly, get rid of that auction system that guarantees that scarce frequencies go to those with the deepest pockets, rather than to those who would best serve their communities, and give minorities and small businesses a fair chance to use the public’s airwaves.
      Note how pirate radio has changed since the 1996 Telecom Act was passed. Before 1996, there were few pirates. They operated on AM or shortwave, were noncommercial, and were operated by high school and college kids who did this thing as a hobby. Their stations sounded like college stations. Nowadays, most pirates are commercial, professional-sounding FM stations. Break up iHeart, Cumulus, and similar companies and let the little guys serve the community!

    3. Don’t these NYC idiots have anything better to do then drag this corpse around? They cannot even figure out how to fund half the Government and they are concerned about funding this? How do they plan to do that with all this and the extended Gov Shutdown? And this guy is worried about kids tuning in the radio? How many kids have, let alone know anything about a radio? In a way it shows total weakness that the FCC cannot even do their job of policing the radio spectrum without someone helping them. If they plan on funding this bill it will have to come out of Trumps wall unless they think they can fund it from all those 2 million dollar pirate radio bust which I kinda doubt they’d actually see a penny!


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