It seems like virtually every day, the FCC announces that it has sent numerous Notices to pirate radio operators warning them that their operations are illegal and that, if the operations do not cease, legal penalties may follow. Yesterday, the FCC released ten such Notices, including ones sent to operators of pirate radio stations themselves (see notices here and here) and to the owners of buildings in which pirate radio operations have been tracked (see notices here and here). These Notices have been common over the past several months, seemingly signaling a new focus on pirate radio operations by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. In the past, some broadcasters had believed that the FCC had other priorities for their Enforcement Bureau, and was less willing to contact and confront pirate radio operators. That seems to have changed.
As we have written before, Commissioner O’Rielly in particular has worried that the FCC still does not have the enforcement tools to really crack down on pirate radio operations. In that article, we wrote about tools that could be useful to the FCC, including a Congressional clarification of its authority to go after building owners who house pirate radio operations and a more robust authorization to actually seize pirate radio equipment without involving other government agencies. Even imposing more penalties quicker would seem to send a message that pirate radio operations will not be tolerated (see the FCC’s most recent actions proposing $15000 fines on pirate radio operators here and here). We look forward to watching the next actions from the FCC in this seeming crackdown on pirate radio.