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Senate Passes PIRATE Act

S.R. 1228 is one step away from amending the Communications Act of 1934

Opponents of illegal broadcasting scored a major and long-anticipated victory today: The Senate (finally) unanimously passed the PIRATE Act Wednesday.

Short for “Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement,” only one hurdle remains for S.R. 1228: President Trump’s desk. 

The legislation also represents a coup for FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who has championed the anti-piracy enforcement actions recently.

In response to the act’s Senate passage, National Association of Broadcasters President/CEO Gordon Smith said, “This legislation provides stronger resources to help the FCC combat illegal pirate radio operations, which not only interfere with licensed radio stations but also public safety communications and air traffic control systems. We look forward to the President signing the PIRATE Act into law.”

[Six Things Broadcasters Should Know About the PIRATE Act]

New York State Broadcasters Association President David Donovan also released a statement thanking the legislators and saying, “We are one step closer to providing the FCC with the tools it needs to address the growing illegal pirate radio problem.

Donovan tempered his optimism: While pirate radio enforcement has increased under the Administration of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, these tools are necessary to resolve the problem. The time has come for the FCC to regain its authority over FM radio frequencies in New York.

In February 2019, the PIRATE Act was unanimously passed in the House of Representatives for the second time. The anti-piracy bill was first introduced during the 115th Congress and passed in July 2018, but it wasn’t taken up by the Senate until 2019.

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