FCC Commissioner Questions Enforcement Actions

Scaling back anti-pirate effort?
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Remarks made last week by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai will likely fuel concern among broadcast industry observers who doubt the Federal Communication Commission’s commitment to enforcement.

In his address to the PLI/FCBA 33rd Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy and Regulation in Washington, Commissioner Pai acknowledged the trend of fewer FCC enforcement actions and specifically mentioned the lack of attention given to pirate radio complaints.

The FCC commissioner said an email he obtained from an unidentified whistleblower within the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau dated Oct. 28, 2014, included the following instructions from the bureau’s Northeast Regional Director to field agents: “We are scaling back our response to pirate operations. Barring interference to a safety service, pirates should not be given a high priority. If there’s interference to a safety service, it’s not a pirate case but instead a safety case.”

The email went on to state “we will not be issuing NALs [Notice of Apparent Liability] to the majority of pirate operators,” according to Commissioner Pai.

Industry observers have told Radio World the FCC’s pending field office closings and staff cutbacks will further erode the FCC’s enforcement abilities.

“My prediction is that we’ll continue to see a less effective enforcement process and fewer enforcement actions,” Pai said.

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