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Industry Roundtable Offers Guidelines to FCC to Combat Pirate Radio

Mix of expanded law enforcement tactics and legislature discussed

The FCC hosted both commercial and noncommercial broadcasters for a roundtable discussion on strategies for combating illegal pirate radio stations last month on June 29. Those who participated discussed short and long-term strategies that could be used to deter these illegal stations. In a letter from Rick Kaplan, NAB general counsel and EVP, legal and regulatory affairs, to FCC Chief Tom Wheeler, those steps are outlined.

A recurring recommendation is the increased use of enforcement against pirate operators. This includes increased action made by the FCC with notices of apparent liability, forfeitures and equipment seizures; an increased short-term effort enforcing existing measures; and an increased ability of the FCC to identify and prosecute pirate operators. It was also suggested that law enforcement entities be brought in to help in the educational effort against pirate operators.

Legislature was also a focus. As part of a dual strategy with the increased enforcement of existing prevention measures, amendments to federal policy, including the Communications Act, should be developed. The need for an FCC policy statement to share with private and law enforcement groups was also brought up.

Additional recommendations include raising awareness among entities that might unknowingly support pirate operations by developing best practices; a further examination of the impact of pirate radio on the nation’s EAS system; the creation of a permanent liaison between the FCC, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Marshal’s service, and state and local law enforcement agencies; as well as exploring the use of private sector engineers to aide FCC offices work with local law enforcement.

The group that composed these recommendations included Kaplan, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, Media Bureau Chief William Lake, Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief Admiral David Simpson and Legal Advisor Maria Kirby.