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NJBA Presses Commissioners on Pirate Problems

Association also seeks repack relief

New Jersey Broadcasters Association President Paul Rotella and member Bob Taylor met with FCC commissioners and staff to discuss New Jersey’s pirate radio problems in Washington.

Rotella and Taylor said that the FCC had not paid enough attention to interference complaints made over the last eight years, indeed that the commission had turned “a blind eye” to it over the past eight years, according to an NJBA newsletter article summarizing last week’s visit.

They also reminded the commissioners that pirate radio stations can interfere with emergency alerting and Federal Aviation Administration communications, in addition to causing problems for licensed stations. Also, illegal pirate antennas radiate just like any other broadcast antenna, and may cause health problems for neighbors.

“I am hopeful this new FCC will be more responsive to acknowledging as well as correcting this public safety hazard,” said Rotella.

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly has been particularly vocal about the pirate radio issue, and this week he asked a Senate committee to give the FCC authority to seize equipment “found in common areas that is broadcasting illegally in the radio band.” He also supports an increase in pirate fines and “some ability to impose penalties on those that directly and intentionally aid pirate stations could be helpful.”

Additionally, the NJBA president asserted that part of the TV spectrum auction and repack should include compensation for FM stations disrupted by the TV infrastructure “We were told this would be addressed ‘later,’” Rotella wrote. “Well, it’s later, and FM broadcasters need to be protected.”