Two Weeks Post-Sweep: They're Back

DJ Johnny Nitro, “a pissed off micro broadcaster with no frequency left to broadcast on,” reports that the Haitian and Jamaican pirate stations raided in the Ft. Lauderdale, FL area earlier this month are back on the air.
Nitro’s not happy with these folks because they run massive power (easily several hundred watts, even up into the four-digit range) and massive commercials: “they play more commercials then some of the clear channel station[s] and are in it for the cash.”

Criminalization of Pirate Radio in Florida Nearly Complete

Somewhat whimsical articles in various Florida outlets celebrate the state Senate’s 30-8 passage Thursday of a bill making unlicensed broadcasting a felonious crime. Amendments to lower the penalty to something more reasonable failed. This is likely to be law by the end of the week or weekend; the bill is already engrossed in the state House.
Interestingly enough, this legislation initially began as an effort to set up a state prosecutorial agency for organized crime, to which the anti-pirate radio police role was tacked on. The final version of the bill only criminalizes pirate radio – everything else disappeared. Continue reading “Criminalization of Pirate Radio in Florida Nearly Complete”

Florida State Senate Begins Debate on Anti-Pirate Bill

Interesting developments on the drive to criminalize pirate radio in Florida. Amendments have been filed to the legislation pending in the state Senate that would reduce the severity of the “crime” of unlicensed broadcasting from a third-degree felony to a first-degree misdemeanor. One version failed on second reading yesterday. Another (pending) amendment would punish first-time pirates with misdemeanors and treat repeat offenders as felons.
Still no news from those whose job it is to report it, save a little blurb in the Tampa Tribune. It should be noted that this bill is not solely about pirate radio stations: it actually creates something called the “Office of Statewide Prosecution,” whose primary job will be to go after organized crime in general. The mandate to hunt pirate radio stations is tacked on – as all good special-interest favors usually are.

WNFC Update: Ferndale Police Waffle

In his ongoing crusade to recruit community support for a limited-run unlicensed “demonstration” LPFM station in Ferndale, Michigan, Tom Ness has been lining up support from community leaders like gangbusters. Folks including Ferndale’s mayor, the local Catholic bishop, and possibly even some Congresscritters from Michigan will grace the mic of this experiment in civil disobedience, among many others.
However, Ferndale Police chief Michael Kitchen will not take part. His response to Ness’ offer of air time at WNFC:
You can’t “not encourage lawlessness” and then intentionally break a law. If you wish to “cooperate fully” with me, simply don’t break the law(s) which I am sworn to uphold. Continue reading “WNFC Update: Ferndale Police Waffle”

FCC Sweeps Florida; State Senate Set to Pass Anti-Pirate Bill

Last week was a busy one in the Sunshine State. An FM pirate was busted in a high-profile raid in Lake Worth; this one was apparently tracked down by the chopper pilot of a local TV station. Mainstream media coverage of this case is particularly sketchy; interference with an aviation frequency is involved, but the hype of what this actually means is blown way out of proportion.
Then there are the ancillary “facts”: the most comprehensive coverage (courtesy of the Palm Beach Post) says pirate radio transmitters cost “as little as $5,000” (off by a good factor of ten – on the high side) and cites the FCC as claiming to have shut down “more than 400” radio pirates in Florida since 1997. Continue reading “FCC Sweeps Florida; State Senate Set to Pass Anti-Pirate Bill”

Making Contact With Your Congresscritter

The Amherst Alliance is circulating this friendly reminder that with Representatives and Senators ostensibly home for a week-long break it might not be a bad idea to refresh their memories about pending efforts to expand community radio (both FM and AM).
Four years ago it was election-year shenanigans which allowed the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio to curtail LPFM by legislative fiat. With media issues generally enjoying a higher profile on Capitol Hill there may be an opportunity here – but LPFM/LPAM is now competing with other media interests and issues (like indecency) which have more political flair at the moment.

Florida Moves to Criminalize Pirate Radio; Jammers Hit Clear Channel?

SB 2714 has been introduced in the Florida State Senate. This legislation would allow state authorities loose on the hunt for pirate stations; the act itself would be treated as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Presently it is a crime in Florida to intentionally interfere with radio signals – a misdemeanor.
SB 2714 cleared the Senate’s Committee on Communication and Public Utilities last month on a 7-1 vote and awaits similar endorsement by the Criminal Justice Committee. A companion bill in the state House has already been endorsed by its Committees on Business Regulation (28-8) and Appropriations (37-5). Continue reading “Florida Moves to Criminalize Pirate Radio; Jammers Hit Clear Channel?”

Radio World Asks Radio Industry to Acquiesce on LPFM

Check this editorial from the closest thing the industry has to a regular general news rag. Radio World was a cautiously supportive voice for LPFM when it was first introduced – but now the publication is firmly on board.
My favorite chunk(s):
“Radio…has become the poster child of what’s wrong with media consolidation…”
“We could do a lot worse than associate ourselves anew with small stations that broadcast for a few miles, offer unexpected and diverse on-air talent, and feature content of interest to their immediate neighborhoods. LPFMs are a lot closer to the ideals of radio as first conceived than most broadcasters probably care to admit.”
“The Communications Act of 1934 established radio’s philosophy of serving “the public interest, convenience and necessity.” Small, localized services are not a threat to that philosophy, rather they are a part of it.” Continue reading “Radio World Asks Radio Industry to Acquiesce on LPFM”