FCC Pledges To Use Bigger Budget To Bust Pirates


    FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel gave her first budget presentation as Chairwoman to the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee this week. In her address, she praised the FSGG for adding the full $410.743 million requested by the FCC in its 2023-2024 Fiscal Year bill.

    The new fiscal year budget contains a 5.3% increase, up from $20.5 million over the current $390 million budget, which ends on September 30.

    In her message, Chairwoman Rosenworcel made it a point to discuss the FCC’s crackdown on pirate radio broadcasters through the implementation of the Pirate Act. Backed by a $5 million budget increase, the initiative aims to protect licensed broadcasters by imposing stricter fines on violators and granting the FCC the power to take action against landlords knowingly hosting illegal radio operations.

    As of September 2023, the Commission has levied millions in fines and issued 24 notices to property owners for apparent pirate radio activities. In March, the Enforcement Bureau slapped a pair of NYC repeat offenders with the largest fine Congress allows – $2,316,034 – for their decade of unauthorized broadcasts. Other pirates have been tracked down from Miami to Alaska.

    The current funding level aims to maintain current staffing levels for both the Media and Enforcement Bureaus. The Media Bureau’s budget is set for a 5% increase, rising from $25.7 million this year to $27 million in the upcoming fiscal year. Similarly, the Enforcement Bureau’s budget is also slated for a 5% growth, reaching $49.6 million.

    Rosenworcel also emphasized the Commission’s crucial role in powering one-sixth of the U.S. economy and ensuring equitable access to communications technologies.


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