Radio News: Faso, Tonko, and Maloney all co-sponsor bill with very stringent pirate radio penalties

Jul 09, 2018 10:50 pm
Hudson Valley representatives in Congress, Democrats and a Republican, representing the 18th, 19th, and 20th Congressional Districts, have all signed up to prosecute pirate radio broadcasters with penalties unlike any before. John Faso (R-Kinderhook), and Democrats Sean Patrick Maloney and Paul Tonko, are all co-sponsors of H.R. 5709, or the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act. The PIRATE Act most notably raises the maximum fine for broadcasting without a license from $100,000 to $2 million. (Currently, the Enforcement Bureau estimates the FCC’s collection-rate at 10 percent in anti-pirate actions. The House proposal would also hasten the FCC's enforcement process and mandate twice-a-year sweeps of the reputed top five pirate markets in the country. There has not been a major bust of any pirate radio stations in the Hudson Valley in many years, and the Federal Communication Commission recently cut back its enforcement office. But these three Hudson Valley lawmakers now have a large interest in the issue. Faso has received a $1,000 political donation during the current 2018 campaign from the National Association of Broadcasters. Tonko received $7,000 during the 2016 campaign from the National Association of Broadcasters. and Faso also got $500 from the NAB during the 2016 campaign. At a hearing on June 13, the House’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology approved the PIRATE Act on a voice vote. Next, the proposal heads to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee where it will likely see amendments with minor changes. There is no current similar bill in the U.S. Senate.