One FCC commissioner has new idea to silence pirate radio

Apr 12, 2015 10:25 pm
[caption width="100" align="alignright"] Michael O'Rielly. From FCC website.[/caption]Leslie Stimson in Radio World reports that last week FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly released a jeremiad on pirate radio broadcasting. His proposal would let corporate broadcasters take pirates to court, and is modeled after the CAN-SPAM Act that lets ISPs sue spammers. But the Republican commissioner's declaration of war is a strange one, as it admits that, "stopping pirate radio is not at the top of the priority list." It also seems to use the form of a posted-online-press-release to fight the public relations battle the FCC's been losing to glamorous pirates. "They are not cute; they are not filling a niche; they are not innovation test beds; and they are not training grounds for future broadcasters," O'Reilly writes. He also says, "pirate radio does not increase media diversity. From time to time, arguments have been made that we should look the other way because some pirate radio operators may be minorities, or the stations’ content appeals to minority listeners." Instead, O'Reilly offers that, "approaches like the NAB’s Broadcast Leadership Training Program should be encouraged to prepare underrepresented populations for leadership and ownership positions in broadcasting." Then, for the underrepresented minorities with lots of money to spend, he says, "Alternatively, those truly interested in operating a legal broadcast station can seek to participate in the Commission’s July 2015 auction, in which 131 FM construction permits will be available, many in smaller and less expensive markets." A day after O'Reilly's statement, on April 9, the FCC issued a $15,000 fine against Jose Alejandro Aguilar for operating a pirate radio station in Louisville, Ky. Aguilar was operating “Radio Pasion 316” on 87.5-FM and 99.5-FM MHz in Louisville. Currently, other broadcasters cannot sue him, but he has 30 days to pay the FCC, or the case may be turned over to the Justice Department for collection, Radio World reports.