FCC pirate radio enforcement slowest since 2004

Dec 15, 2015 12:59 pm
John Anderson at DIYmedia.net has long tracked pirate radio activities in the United States and writes that enforcement efforts from the Federal Communications Commission are at their lowest levels since 2004. But those enforcement actions may be at their highest level of political gamesmanship ever. Most of the FCC's enforcement actions in 2015 -- 76 percent -- were in New York or New Jersey, most around New York City. Earlier this year, plans to cut back the enforcement bureau at the FCC were met by a letter signed by New York and New Jersey Congresspeople with ties to the National Association of Broadcasters, demanding the commission do something about the pirate radio menace. So the FCC reacted: 111 enforcement actions in just ten states in 2015. Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who parrots the NAB stance on pirates, quoted from a leaked 2014 email from an FCC field director saying, “We are scaling back on our response to pirate operations. Barring interference to a safety service, pirates should NOT be given a high priority (If there’s interference to a safety serivce, it’s not a ‘pirate case’ but instead a ‘safety case.'” Anderson, though, puts this all in its proper perspective: "Everybody involved in this little corner of the media policy world is a paper tiger: the enforcement organization and agents themselves, the industry lobbyists who are trying to blow the notion of pirate radio out of all proportion to reality, and the Commissioners who’ve picked up the industry’s crusade for the purposes of making some political hay. None have suggested a meaningful or constructive path away from the status quo — which is all the better for the pirates, who will continue to flourish in spectrum-crevices long considered unserviceable by their licensed bretheren."

FULL DISCLOSURE: John Anderson is on Wave Farm's board.