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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
  • The house Passed July 23rd, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      House Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Communications and Technology
    IntroducedMay 8th, 2018

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What is it?

This bill ― known as the PIRATE Act ― would set steep financial penalties for individuals found to be operators of unlicensed radio stations (aka “pirating”). It’d increase fines for illegal pirate operations to $100,000 per day per violation from $10,000 per violation, and establish a fine of up to $2 million for facilitating pirate radio broadcasting. It would also streamline the FCC’s enforcement process and empower state and local law enforcement in combating illegal pirate operations.

The bill’s full title is the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement (PIRATE) Act.

Impact

Radio listeners; broadcasters -- both legitimate and pirate; and regulatory agencies.

Cost

A CBO estimate of this bill is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthThe legislation, proposed by Reps. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Paul Tonko (D-NY), would also set forth protections from signals that are sent from illegal radio operators and can pose a significant threat to public safety – oftentimes disrupting Federal Aviation Administration operations, the Emergency Alert System and other tools relied upon by first responders

“Protecting our public airwaves is an essential part of protecting our communities,” said Tonko. “Whether a radio frequency is being used by first responders coordinating to save lives or parents who just want to keep obscenity and bigotry away from their children, our communities are better served when broadcasting is governed by the rule of law. I am grateful to my colleagues for their support of the PIRATE Act, important legislation that will ensure our airwaves and communities are kept safe.”

Speaking at the start of the markup, Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) commented that the PIRATE Act:

“Gives the FCC more tools to combat illegal pirate radio operations. These illegal broadcasts deprive Americans of their access to important emergency alerting information and their access to educational and other programming provided by legitimate license holders.”

This legislation passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee on a voice vote and has the support of 14 bipartisan cosponsors, including 8 Democrats and 6 Republicans. The bill is supported by the New York Broadcasters Association (NYSBA)and the National Broadcasters Association (NBA).


Media:

Summary by Lucas McConnell

(Photo Credit: iStock / Bet_noire)

AKA

PIRATE Act

Official Title

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to provide for enhanced penalties for pirate radio, and for other purposes.

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    What harm does "pirate" broadcasting cause to justify these penalties?
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    There are bigger issues facing Americans. This is a bill to help corporate radio stations, not the average citizen.
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    While pirating should be penalized, the proposed increase in the penalty will be far more harmful for small local and regional broadcasters than for corporate broadcasters who can easily pay even the proposed penalty in this act. While piracy is a problem, smaller broadcasting companies shouldn't be penalized for piracy violations to the point it could force them out of business.
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    It is the people’s airwaves. Not corporate airwaves.
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    The penalty is to harsh for the crime.
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    Just because you give it an unsavory title doesn’t equate to such harsh penalty. This appears to be a way to justify more government intervention and build revenue.
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    Isn’t this overkill? Three orders of magnitude? Seriously?
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    I believe this Act is in conflict to the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.
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    Laws like this could stifle competition and innovation from upstart radio stations and amateurs that may push the boundaries of legality.
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    It isn’t that pirate radio broadcasting is not an issue, but the penalties outlined in this bill appear to be way too harsh. This seems like a bill for our politicians to tout their “tough on crime” credentials rather than being smart on crime.
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    The airways are owned by the people, right? Make license holders prove detrimental interference before investigating.
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    Requiring "licenses" in order to operate allows for the FCC to censor stations and individuals they don't agree with. They should move to a system that automatically approves licenses as long as they do not overlap a first responsders channel
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    Some pirate radio broadcasts are frequently used to spread fake information and propaganda on the behalf of themselves or other organizations, while others use it to spread alternative true facts and new ideas. The issue is the fact that this methodology hurts businesses, especially small and or new stations. In general because these pirated stations are used sometimes by certain organizations, it can be used for recruitment or to promote ideas that are harmful to mainstream society or certain groups of people. As a result, I don't believe it ignoring the issue and treating it lightly is wise. We need to punish people who use it to harm other people or spread bad ideas based on hatred and lies.
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    Seeing that the internet it is easy to set up a means to broadcast a station this is not a bad bill. To broadcast over the airways possibly over other stations legally owned frequency should be punished hard. There are many more ways to spread your message without disrupting radio frequencies.
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    As much as is needed to stop it. There is no innovation here
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    This doesn't seem an appropriate thing for congress to spend time on at this point. I wonder about the scope and what it would include; like a very small broadcaster at 1/2 watt or are there limits so we're going after big ones with more than 50,000 watts. In either case, it seems like they are trying to fix something that I've not heard is "broke." (Remember - if it ain't broke don't "fix" it.)
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    Seriously? ICE is kidnapping babies on the border and congress is debating this? Get your shit together guys.
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    This is an outdated concern and laws already exist
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    Not a chance. The federal government doesn’t need to be involved in a mostly self regulated frequency band enforcement.
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