State Broadcasters Urge Congress to Pass the PIRATE Act

U.S. Congress
U.S. Congress

A letter was sent last Friday from broadcaster associations from all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer urging Congress to pass the PIRATE Act, which would provide the FCC with new enforcement tools to combat illegal pirate radio operations. Last week, the Pirate Act was re-introduced to the House of Representatives by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) after failing to be passed by the Senate in the previous Congressional Session.

"For years unauthorized pirate radio stations have harmed communities across the country by undermining the Emergency Alert System, interfering with airport communications , posing direct health risks and interfering with li censed stations' abilities to serve their listeners. The time has come to take significant steps to resolve this vexing problem," stated the letter.

"The PIRATE Act gives the FCC additional tools to address the growing pirate radio problem. It provides the authority to levy increased fines up to $100,000 per violation and $2,000,000 in total. The PIRATE Act streamlines the enforcement process and requir es the FCC to conduct pirate radio enforcement sweeps in cities with a concentration of pirate radio stations. It recognizes the importance of FCC coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement authorities. Finally, the PIRATE Act would create a database of all licensed radio stations operating in the AM and FM bands as well as those entities that have been subject to enforcement actions for illegal operation.

We are reaching the point where illegal pirate stations undermine the legitimacy and purpose of the FCC's licensing system to the detriment of listeners in communities across the country. The PIRATE Act will help the FCC restore integrity to the system. For these reasons, local broadcasters across our great nation fully support the biparti san PIRATE Act and urge its swift passage without changes," the letter concluded.

NAB Executive VP/Communications Dennis Wharton issued this statement last week: "NAB thanks Reps. Tonko (D-NY) and Bilirakis (R-FL) for today's introduction of the PIRATE Act, which strengthens the FCC's enforcement tools to combat illegal pirate radio operations. 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."

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