The Pirate Act increases fines for illegal pirate operations from $10,000 per violation to $100,000 per day per violation, up to a maximum of $2,000,000, and streamlines the FCC’s enforcement. The Pirate Act was approved by a voice vote. During the 115th Congress, the House passed identical legislation by voice vote.
Energy and Commerce Committee Republican leader Greg Walden of Oregon and Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Republican leader Bob Latta of Ohio issued a joint statement on the Act passing. “Protecting our public airwaves from illegal pirate radio disruptions is crucial to safeguarding important public safety communications, including our nation’s Emergency Alert System and critical aviation frequencies,” Walden and Latta said. “This bill gives the FCC the tools it needs to take down these illegal broadcasts and increases the penalties for these bad actors. We urge our Senate colleagues to swiftly pass this important bill to strengthen our public safety communications.”
NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith also issued a statement. “NAB applauds the House of Representatives for unanimous passage of the Pirate Act, which strengthens the FCC’s ability to combat illegal pirate radio operations. Unlawful pirate radio stations not only interfere with licensed radio broadcasts, but also jeopardize air traffic control communications and threaten public safety. We commend Reps. Tonko (D-NY) and Bilirakis (R-FL) for their leadership on this issue and urge swift passage of the Pirate Act by the Senate.”
President of the New York State Broadcasters Association David Donovan said, “This is an important day for American consumers who rely on legally lilcensed stations for life-saving news and information. Every day listeners in New York City are subject to interference from illegal operators. These illegal stations interfere with airport communications,the Emergency Alert Service, and ignore all consumer potection laws.”