Florida War on Pirates: Mobilizing the Troops

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.
The article’s hype factor does not stop there. Some of the stinkiest nuggets emanate from one of the sponsors of the (successful) drive to criminalize pirate radio in Florida; the president of a public station (who lobbied for the measure); and one Roy Pressman, a broadcast consultant who says “there’s a chance people could die” from interference caused by unlicensed broadcasters.
Even worse, the FCC appears to have endorsed this new state law. That’s the suggestion in an article in the south Florida Sun-Sentinel, which quotes Tampa-based FCC District Field Office Director Ralph Barlow: “Under this new law, we don’t have to be called at all.”
Before I even had a chance to start puzzling the interesting legal dilemma presented by that statement, I heard Signal Finder‘s nipples poink to attention all the way from Wisconsin.