Enforcement Drought

2001 has been a remarkably quiet year on the American pirate radio scene. It’s not that stations aren’t broadcasting or their numbers aren’t growing; the FCC, it appears, has made microradio enforcement a lower priority.
According to our Enforcement Action Database, which attempts to keep track of the FCC’s enforcement activity, contact with pirates has been seemingly sparse. To date, only 12 enforcement actions have been reported. If this trend continues through the rest of the year, enforcement activity could be as much as 50% down from the previous two years.
In fact, for the entire year so far, the total number of enforcement actions only equals the (past) average monthly activity of the FCC. Continue reading “Enforcement Drought”

Shortwave Spike

It’s been years since the shortwave pirate scene has been this active.
Normally, the best times to catch pirate broadcasts on shortwave frequencies has been weekend nights. While the spring and summer months tend to see a slowdown in activity due to increased solar and thunderstorm-induced interference, this trend has all but disappeared.
Pirates are popping up at all hours during the week, with some broadcasting marathon shows on multiple frequencies.
In the United States, the FCC has spent the last few years devoting most of its enforcement resources to tracking down and busting FM microradio stations; this has left little effort directed toward monitoring the shortwave band. Continue reading “Shortwave Spike”

Telling it to the Judge

Regional Battles, National Goal
While the June 2001 court victory for Connecticut’s Prayze FM was an important event in the ongoing legal battle between pirate broadcasters and the Federal Communications Commission, it is only one front in a broader challenge to FCC authority currently taking place in the courts.
The Prayze case deserves special mention because of its fundamental attacks on both the FCC’s new low power FM (LPFM) licensing rules and on the general enforcement strategy the agency employs against the free radio movement. It is not the first station to attempt draw governmental blood in the courts, nor is it the only one finding success.
There are at least a half-dozen court cases wending their way through the federal judicial system at the moment. It is important to remember that there are basically three levels of activity in the federal court system: the District Court (where all cases begin), the Appeals Court (who can either uphold, reverse, or remand District Court judge rulings), and the Supreme Court (the ultimate arbiter of chosen disputes). Continue reading “Telling it to the Judge”