Yesterday, the FCC announced that it had seized the equipment of another pirate radio operator, this time one who was operating from a high-rise in Manhattan. The pirate was operating an unauthorized FM radio station from a New York apartment building. As we recently wrote in connection with another seizure of the equipment of a pirate operator in the Boston area, such seizures are not easy to accomplish – as it takes far more than an FCC inspector knocking on a door and walking out with the unauthorized equipment. Instead, the FCC needs to convince the local US attorney to get a warrant for the seizure, and the US Marshalls need to actually conduct the seizure. Much coordination is needed, so the FCC’s recent actions demonstrate the priority that the FCC is placing on stamping out these unauthorized operations.
What may also be of assistance to these efforts is legislative changes authorizing steeper fines for pirates and giving more direct authority to the FCC to take action against those who assist pirates in their operations. In our article about the Boston equipment seizure, we also summarized a draft PIRATE Act that has been circulating in Congress. That bill has now been officially introduced in Congress, and referred to the house Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration. FCC Commissioner O’Rielly issued a statement applauding the action. The text of the bill as introduced is not yet available (but should be available shortly here – a discussion draft is available here but may have changed since this draft was initially circulated). We will be watching to see if this bill proceeds in the current legislative session.