A much-overdue update to the Enforcement Action Database is done. So far in 2011, the FCC has conducted less than 100 enforcement actions – way down from this time last year, when 359 were already on the books.
The major changes to this year’s enforcement trends include an apparent stiffening of fiscal penalties and a diversification of enforcement across all broadcast bands. On the first point, the FCC seems to be increasing fines from the base-penalty of $10,000. Not that this actually works as a deterrent: in cases where an unlicensed broadcaster demonstrates an inability to pay, fines must be radically reduced. Continue reading “FCC Enforcement: Old and New”
On June 20, the New York state legislature passed a bill criminalizing unlicensed broadcasting. The measure apparently passed the state Assembly by acclimation and cleared the Senate on a unanimous vote. Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill with little fanfare. This is the fourth time an anti-pirate bill has been considered by New York’s lawmakers.
The new law makes it a class A misdemeanor to broadcast without an FCC license in the AM and FM bands, with penalties ranging from heavy fines to (very unlikely) up to a year in jail. Subsequent run-ins with the FCC or state may be prosecuted as a class D felony, which is punishable by a fine ranging between $500-$7,500 and imprisonment of up to five years. Continue reading “New York Sanctions Pirate-Hunting”
Radio industry trades and watchdogs have played up last month’s raid and seizure of pirate station Datz Hits 99.7 FM in Boston. According to the FCC and Department of Justice, Datz Hits caused interference to a licensed commercial radio station as well as an air traffic control frequency at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
Said Enforcement Bureau Chief P. Michele Elison, “This is an important issue for licensed broadcasters and for the public in general, as both groups rely on the vigilance of the FCC to keep the airwaves free of interference. This enforcement action reflects our continued commitment to that objective.” Continue reading “FCC Flexing Enforcement "Muscle"”
The Enforcement Action Database continues to show a relatively lackadaisical year of pirate-hunting shaping up: just 35 actions through mid-April.
Should the trend continue, enforcement activity against unlicensed broadcasters may approach levels not seen since 2005-06, the start of the FCC’s post-LPFM station-hunting campaign. This would signify a significant shift and could be indicative of strategic revisions involving the agency’s spectrum enforcement priorities more generally. Continue reading “FCC Enforcement: Shortwave on Radar?”
It’s been a surprisingly slow year so far in the FCC’s low-intensity war against unlicensed broadcasting.
After 2010’s decline in year-over-year enforcement actions, it would seem that field agents’ priorities are shifting.
Four people have been hit with a total of $75,000 in Notices of Apparent Liability (i.e., pre-fines) this year. However, three of those cases are carry-overs from 2010. Continue reading “FCC Enforcement: Pirates Less a Pirority?”
The New York state legislature is considering a bill to make unlicensed broadcasting a class D felony, punishable with possible (undefined) imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. The bill would call foul on any broadcaster without an FCC license and/or accused of causing interference to another radio station.
Good luck with that. New York is a major hotbed of pirate radio activity in the United States, topping the perennial pirate radio capital of the nation (Florida) for the first time just last year. Continue reading “New York Next to "Outlaw" Pirate Radio”
The FCC’s trend of hunting unlicensed broadcasters may be slowing down.
The number of enforcement actions against unlicensed broadcasters fell off dramatically during 2010 – from a record single-month high of 75 in April to just 9 (known so far) in November. May and June represented pivotal months in this decline.
Barring a massive run of enforcement actions over the next two weeks, 2010 will represent the first cumulative decrease in the FCC’s pirate-hunting efforts after four consecutive record-breaking years. Continue reading “FCC Enforcement Plateau Ahoy?”
What is LPFM?
LPFM stands for Low Power FM radio broadcasting. In the United States, the lowest minimum wattage a licensed FM radio station may have is 100 watts. There are lower-power FM transmitters in use, though, by some stations who want to increase their coverage area by extending their signal. These are called translators or boosters.
While these may only have a wattage measured in a range from dozens to hundreds, they are not true broadcast stations by the FCC’s definitions – they do not originate their own programming. They rely on a “parent” station to provide what they air.
Ham (amateur) radio uses a similar system called a repeater; people don’t broadcast from it. They shoot a signal into it, and then it gets re-broadcast to an area larger than what ham operators might reach with their own gear. In a nutshell, translators and boosters are the repeaters of FM radio.
LPFM is the common term used to define an FM broadcast station that originates its own programming but has the power of a translator or booster. Under current FCC rules, operating such a station is simply not allowed. You may also see LPFM referred to by other terms – like “LPRS,” “microradio,” and “mini-FM,” but they all mean the same thing. Continue reading “The History of LPFM”
A crash-course in the dramaturgy of media studies has the mind fully occupied at the moment, but not quite busy enough to do other stuff quasi-related to this site: Continue reading “Miscellaneous News of Note”
It’s always a little sad when a pirate radio station throws in the towel, either from implosion, disorganization or, more likely, a little fear placed into the stations’ operators by the Federal Communications Commission.
Unfortunately, FCCFREE RADIO in San Francisco is now on the list of casualties, after field agents paid the station’s proprietor, John Miller, a visit. According to reaction from Radio Survivor, Miller opines “that times really have changed for pirate radio, saying, ‘Unfortunately people go to jail now.'”
Okay, just stop right there, and read this. (If you’re interested in the full legal history of pirate radio in the U.S., read this). Continue reading “"Unfortunately People Go to Jail Now" – Not”