On a voice vote without any debate, a bill that would raise fines on unlicensed radio station operations to as much as $2 million has cleared its first hurdle in Congress. The House on Monday unanimously approved the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement or PIRATE Act (H.R. 583).
The House passed a similar bill during the previous congressional session. This time Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) championed the bill. It would raise fines on unlicensed station operations from $10,000 per violation to $100,000 per day per violation, up to a maximum of $2 million.
The FCC would also be required to conduct sweeps in the five cities where pirate radio is the biggest problem – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas – at least once a year. And then, within six months, field agents would be mandated to return to those markets to conduct “monitoring sweeps” to determine whether the unlicensed operators simply powered back up or changed frequencies. The agency would also be required to issue a report back to Congress on an annual basis about its pirate-fighting efforts. » Read More