WGXC-90.7 FM

Radio News: O'Rielly wants something done about pirate radio

Sep 29, 2015 6:39 pm
Click here to play or download an audio version of this report.

FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, the leading critic of the commission's recent decision to cut back spending on the enforcement division, and someone who is very close with the National Association of Broadcasters lobbyists, sounded another warning about the microradio menace with the Sept. 24 release of "A Draft Pirate Radio Policy and Enforcement Statement." The statement lacks any specifics, and instead restates the need for FCC action on the issue.
The Commission reiterates our firm position, as articulated in the Communications Act and Commission rules, that unauthorized broadcast operations within the FM and AM radio broadcast bands – often referred to as pirate radio broadcasting – is strictly prohibited and subject to enforcement measures. Violations are not to be taken lightly, as the harmful interference caused by pirate operations sabotages licensed broadcasters serving their communities and puts the valuable public safety contributions of these stations in jeopardy to the detriment of the American people who count on them, including diverse and underserved populations.

Further, the Commission makes clear that it intends to enact a vigorous campaign of enforcement activities to disrupt and permanently terminate all pirate radio stations that are in operation today and prevent those that may attempt to come online in the future. We will collaborate with federal and state law enforcement authorities, as needed, to enhance and complement our enforcement operations. Our effort will include an education component for those entities that may knowingly or unknowingly assist pirate radio operations in any capacity, including building owners and managers, national and local campaigns for political office, media advertisers, radio programming suppliers, concert promoters and venue operators, and equipment manufacturers and importers. All interested parties should be on notice that facilitating pirate radio broadcasting will not be tolerated, and may be subject to enforcement or legal actions, as permitted under law. Accordingly, we seek full cooperation by anyone who may have relevant information to help identify, locate, and take action against the operators and owners of pirate radio stations.
Michael Marcus, a spectrum tech and policy consultant who used to work in the FCC's enforcement bureau on rules for Wi-Fi and 60 GHz policy, replied to O'Rielly's post saying that if the FCC is going to cut staff in the enforcement bureau, it should at least adequately fund the part of the office that improves productivity through technology. "Specialized equipment can improve the efficiency of monitory for intermittent signals such as pirate broadcasting and intentional interference to other services by collecting data 24/7 for later analysis that can be used to refine location and operating details. E[nforcement ]B[ureau]'s field staff has been notoriously underfunded in technical equipment - as has the OET Lab. The FCC 2016 budget proposal has $167,132 for EB tech equipment and $121,920 for OET's Lab. EB's Equipment Development Group in Powder Springs, GA will shrink from 10 positions to 7 under the present plan." That sounds like specific criticism that might be useful in shaping policy.