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.
The constructed dialogue of the latest reportage gives the effort a partisan tone: Republicans led the crusade against unlicensed broadcasting while Democrats wrung their hands – not about the crusade itself, but its conditions.
Reading the legislation loosely enough would allow the state to go after anyone involved in a station, directly or indirectly, with equal zeal: I expect we’ll find out before the year is through, depending on the designs of Florida’s broadcast industry and law enforcement to exercise its new-found muscle.
As Florida is a location of exceptional activity the FCC, via its complicit silence on this matter, is probably grateful for the state’s assist. One must wonder, however, if we might not be witnessing the testing grounds for a new industry offensive against unlicensed broadcasting. With state budgets generally stretched as thin as they are, one hopes not.