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Radio News: Million dollar pirate radio fines proposed

Mar 21, 2018 10:50 pm
Radio World reports that some in Congress are writing up a bill with more harsh penalties for pirate radio operators. Leonard Lance, a Republican from New Jersey, and Paul Tonko, a Democrat from New York, are writing the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act for their House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. The PIRATE Act proposes to change Title V of the Communications Act of 1934 to increase fines for pirate radio operations. The bill's proposed draft language is just ridiculous, upping the current $10,000 fines to $100,000 each day of broadcasting, with a maximum fine of $2 million. Many of the current $10,000 fines are dismissed on a hardship basis now, and the Federal Communications Commission shouldn't expect to fill its coffers with millions from pirate radio operators. Radio World says, "The draft legislation also calls on the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau to conduct enforcement sweeps across the nation’s top five radio markets to identify and terminate illegal broadcasts," which is hilarious as Congress has repeatedly cut the FCC's budget, shrinking the enforcement bureau's workforce. And the act would allow state and local governments to add more fines on top of the $2 million figures, an admission that the current state laws against pirate radio are indeed unconstitutional. The fines, under this proposal, are also meant to go to anyone who "facilitates" the pirate broadcasts, which means landlords, and maybe interviewed guests, could be fined.