N.Y. Pirates Soon May Walk the Plank Faster

Bill awaiting governor’s signature makes jail time possible
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Bill awaiting governor’s signature makes jail time possible

The New York State legislature has passed a bill adding potential jail time to the possible penalties if someone is convicted of operating an illegal radio station.

Lawmakers in Albany passed legislation that makes it a Class A misdemeanor to operate an unlicensed radio station in the AM and FM band. According to the text, the measure “creates the crime of unauthorized radio transmission” and “prohibits knowingly making a radio transmission on radio frequencies assigned and licensed by the Federal Communications Commission for use by AM and FM radio stations.”

The measure is similar to laws in Florida and New Jersey, giving local authorities some say over what previously had been a federal-only area of jurisdiction. While pirate radio can pop up almost anywhere, those three are among the states where the problem tends to be more acute.

In the justification for the bill, the text states that “local radio stations often have their programming and signal ‘bumped off’ the air, or drowned out by unofficial, unlicensed ‘pirate’ radio stations that broadcast without FCC approval. This law will raise financial fines and incarceration penalties to serve as a disincentive for those who would make such illegal broadcasts.”

Once signed into law, the new measure would take effect in 180 days.