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Radio News: FCC has few ideas for NYC pirates

Sep 03, 2015 10:40 pm
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John Anderson in DIY Media reports that Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler just about admitted recently that the agency can do nothing about the proliferation of pirate radio stations in the New York City metropolitan area. While the FCC is cutting back employment at its enforcement division, it is adding one position in New York City, where as many as 100 pirate stations may be on the air. In late June, FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly convened a “working group” including the National Association of Broadcasters, New York State Broadcasters Association, New Jersey Broadcasters Association, National Public Radio, and others to stop New York City radio pirates. On July 27, Wheeler sent letters to New York and New Jersey’s members of Congress formally replying to a previous letter from the Congresspeople about the problem. According to the letter, the FCC, “has issued more than 100 pirate radio enforcement actions” this year — a claim that Anderson says it not reflected in the FCC's public data. “Given the facts it is clear that the pirate radio problem cannot be solved by enforcement alone,” Wheeler writes. He announces the creation of an “inter-bureau task force” to “develop policy and enforcement optoions to address the issue,” with four options:
• Revision of the Communications Act to provide for “aiding and abetting” liability for landlords and other parties that provide material support to pirate operators;
• Identification of trade associations and law enforcement entities to educate landlords, advertisers and others about the unlawful nature of pirate operations and develop best practices;
• Release of a policy statement/enforcement advisory that could be shared with these groups and help channel state, local, and federal resources on pirates; and
• Additional FCC, state, and local enforcement options for reducing pirate activities.
Anderson predicts a sweep of the New York metropolitan area by the Enforcement Bureau’s new “tiger teams,” similar to sweeps in 1997-98 in the face of the microradio movement. Read the full story in DIY Media. (NOTE: Anderson is on Wave Farm's board.)