After the PIRATE Act unanimously passed the House of Representatives as H.R. 583 on Feb. 25 with no amendments, the Senate is the next hurdle. The legislation, which has bipartisan support, is intended to ameliorate what broadcasters say is a serious problem of illegal broadcasting and interference.
Representatives from 50 U.S. local broadcast associations have co-signed a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schumer to pass the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act (S. 1228), also known as the PIRATE Act, without changes.
According to Congress.gov, the bill has been read twice in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
However, this is not the legislation’s first time being considered in the Senate. During the 1115th Congress, the House also referred the bill to the Senate in July 2018. Then in November 2018, representatives from these same broadcast associations sent a letter to Senate leadership requesting that they pass the bill; McConnell and Schumer ultimately demurred.
That context suggests a different tone for the statement: “The time has come to take significant steps to resolve this vexing problem.”
Additionally, the broadcasters wrote, “We are reaching the point where illegal pirate stations undermine the legitimacy and purpose of the FCC’s licensing system to the detriment of listeners in communities across the country. The PIRATE Act will help the FCC restore integrity to the system.”