Two men were arrested on the last day of June for running unlicensed stations in Broward County, Florida. They’re being charged with felonies under a new state law and face up to five years in prison. A pirate-busting sheriff’s detective seems pleased with his handiwork, but it’s been nearly a year since the law went on the books and this is the first action to speak of. Signal Finder, those pirate-hunters for hire – are not making out like they’d hoped.
A pending petition from the American Radio Relay League to the FCC, which asks the agency to declare the Florida law null and void (by federal preemption) may not be ruled on for several more months. Perhaps the state will rush its prosecution in hopes of beating the FCC to a resolution. The south Florida scene has certainly transcended microbroadcasting, sounding like a little slice of London – if not so much on the air then in the modus operandi.
Bob Noxious has two brass ones: after a scant two months on the air and scads of publicity to show for it, the FCC showed up the day before April Fool’s and told him to shut up. He has complied – for now –
Although we will have to endure a short time of static on the radio, we won’t be silenced for long. Thanks to modern technology…when the PIRATE RADIO NETWORK returns, [the station] will be broadcast from MULTIPLE transmitters in numerous locations throughout the area. Not only will that expand the listening area, but it will be with a much crisper and cleaner signal. Lets see how many transmitters the F.C.C. can shut down at one time! Continue reading “St. Petersburg's Pirate Radio Network Down But Not Out”
Amateurs on the offensive: The American Radio Relay League has formally petitioned the FCC to nullify Florida’s anti-pirate law passed last year. Not because hams like pirates, but because they’re afraid the law’s so broadly written that any amateur who inadvertently interferes could be branded a criminal. ARRL’s 10-page Request for Declaratory Ruling is an excellent encapsulation of the legislative and judicial history for why laws like Florida’s shouldn’t be on the books.
Meanwhile, some clenching reporter from a Fort Myers TV station put together an “exposé” of a local hip-hop pirate station using indecency as a hook, complete with bleeped clips and the shocked reaction of a (white) mother’s face after she tuning in for the cameras. The reporter, with help from a local commercial radio station worried about the pirate’s effect on its listenership, went so far as to track down the transmission location. It also calls use of the internet as STL a growing trend.
While the proliferation of FM translator stations by religious broadcast groups arguably constitutes spectrum abuse, it’s just one perspective on a larger problem. Religious broadcasters are not only snapping up translator channels on which real community LPFM stations might have been sited, they’re also engaged in LPFM broadcasting.
A recent SF Chronicle story illustrates how Calvary Chapel organizes LPFM station affiliate growth:
This month, the Calvary Chapel Radio Ministry of Costa Mesa in Orange County hosted 170 mostly Christian low-power broadcasters, offering them operational tips as well as up to “16 hours per day, seven days a week” of programming beamed in via satellite, according to its Web site. Continue reading “Religious Broadcasting As Franchise Operation”
REC Networks makes some remarkable math: the entity doing business as translator-mongers Edgewater Broadcasting and Radio Assist Ministries is cleaning up on the FM dial. Combined, Edgewater/RAM currently hold 1,026 construction permits for translator stations. This is of more than 4,200 license applications filed (~2,300 applications still pending).
Of these, REC then lists (in an e-mail) 83 sales or transfers of Edgewater/RAM construction permits – the recipients of whom just happen to be other translator-mongers, like the American Family Association and Calvary Chapel Church, Inc.
Three multi-translator transactions involved Edgewater/RAM handing over 26 construction permits in Florida to “Reach Communications (Calvary Chapel Church, Inc.)” for $326,500. The total revenue generated by the 83 transactions is just over $800,000. Continue reading “Moneychangers In the Temple”
Two recent articles profile the appearance of new pirate stations in the state. One is relatively straightforward, the other reads like a Puritan beef. The latter station profiled, Dream Team Radio, covers multiple cities with two frequencies. It also has turned the “safe harbor” concept on its head – broadcasting “N-words and F-bombs” during the day and going to “love songs generally free of raunch” overnight.
When the media starts bitching the FCC (and, in the state of Florida, licensed broadcasters and law enforcement) are likely to take notice and make some examples of somebody. Perhaps that somebody will be Doug Brewer, formerly of Tampa’s Party Pirate fame, who closes out the first article with a somewhat damning cameo: Continue reading “Florida Media Complains: "Didn't We Outlaw Them?"”
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) plans to reintroduce a bill (which died of inaction last session) that would expand the FCC’s LPFM service back out to its original parameters as defined in 2000. She’s released a statement touting the initiative as a plus for media diversity (though she’s off by a week on LPFM’s fifth birthday, but that’s just nitpicking).
However, the more exciting legislative action seems to be taking place at the state level. Although state broadcast lobbies in Florida and New Jersey are criminalizing unlicensed broadcasting, there is a new push afoot in another state (which will remain nameless so as to keep the lobbyists at bay for as long as possible) to enact legislation that would put control of broadcast radio stations whose signals do not cross a state line under the control of that state’s regulator of public utilities. Continue reading “LPFM Legislation Redux; Taking Initiative at the State Level”
On Tuesday “more than 50 radio managers and owners gathered…at a meeting of the Florida Sheriffs Association at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood,” according to the Miami Herald. “Their goal: To plot strategy on taking small-time, illegal operators off the air.”
The Broward County Sheriff’s office claims to have shut down “a dozen stations in the past 18 months,” while an estimated three dozen remain on the air in south Florida. “It takes ruthless, local law enforcement tactics,” said Sheriff’s Captain Larry DeFuria. At least two attorneys from the Florida Association of Broadcasters were also present at the meeting, undoubtedly for purposes of coaching the best ways to apply the smackdown. Continue reading “Florida War on Pirates: Mobilizing the Troops”
Meet Signal Finder – a Florida company founded by engineers with experience at Clear Channel and Motorola. For an hourly fee it tracks pirate stations and provides detailed reports on their signal quality, strength, and interference potential (relative to the client). It’s an FCC enforcement action wrapped with a bow.
Key bit: “The commission has been quiet about Signal Finder’s efforts to this point, [Signal Finder vice president Steven] Grey said. ‘One FCC enforcement officer told me that having us pinpoint a pirate could expedite the process. However, they still need to do their complete investigation. That leaves our clients the option of taking action against unlicensed broadcasters in civil court,’ he said.” Continue reading “Florida: Pirate Radio Attracts Bounty Hunters”