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PIRATE Act a Good First Step But More Needed, NJBA Says

But group wants stiffer penalties for landlords

While the PIRATE Act has its share of supporters, there are some that feel the legislation isn’t going far enough.

The New Jersey Broadcasters Association said that while passage of the act in a Senate committee is a step in the right direction, it fails in one key way. More needs to be done to hold landlords accountable for permitting illegal pirate activities on their property.

“While this is a step in the right direction, the act fails to allow the FCC to hold landlords accountable for allowing these dangerous illegal broadcasters to operate,” said NJBA President Paul Rotella. “[This enables] illegal pirates to continue to plague the airways. We hope this will be rectified in future legislation.”

[Read: PIRATE Act Makes Progress in Senate] 

The act proposes to hike fines for violations up to $100,000 per day (up from the current maximum daily penalty of about $19,200) and would give the government the authority to impose a maximum penalty of $2 million for illegal radio broadcasters.

Other provisions include creation of a yearly report by the FCC summarizing the implementation of the legislation and related enforcement activities; the introduction of annual sweeps for of the top five radio markets with pirate radio activity; and giving the FCC the authority to skip the warning known as a Notice of Unlicensed Operation and go straight to issuing a Notice of Apparent Liability.

The legislation also calls for creating a publicly accessible online database that lists all U.S. stations as well as all entities that have received notice that they are operating a broadcast radio station without authority.

This week the PIRATE Act cleared yet another hurdle when members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation voted unanimously to support S.R. 1228 and refer it to the full Senate for a vote. Illegal pirate radio continues to be a problem in New Jersey and New York, Rotella said.

An identical version of this bill, H.R. 583, passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

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