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O’Rielly Puts Forth a Pirate Radio Policy Draft

Hopes to keep the issue in the forefront as Enforcement Bureau cuts back field resources

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly wants to keep the issue of pirate radio on the front burner at the FCC, so he has put forth his own draft of a “pirate radio policy and enforcement statement.”

The commissioner said that when the FCC decided to cut back field agents and offices, “assurances were made that a sleeker, streamlined Enforcement Bureau would be able to perform all of its duties with even greater efficiency.” When further concerns were raised, he wrote, “new language was even added to the eventual order promising a revitalized enforcement effort against illegal broadcasters via development of a ‘comprehensive policy and enforcement approach.’”

O’Rielly said he asked the Enforcement Bureau chief whether this could be done by the end of the summer, “but no timetable was provided in our friendly exchange. To my knowledge, nothing further has emerged since the adoption of the field reorganization order.”

So O’Rielly, who has spokenseveral times this year about the pirate radio problem, has written his own draft, “in the interest of furthering the discussion and getting the ball rolling on our unanimously-approved promise of a policy and enforcement approach for pirate radio.” The text is below. He emphasized that it’s just a starting point but said, “Given the stakes, this issue shouldn’t wait any longer.”

The text:

The Commission reiterates our firm position, as articulated in the Communications Act and Commission rules, that unauthorized broadcast operations within the FM and AM radio broadcast bands — often referred to as pirate radio broadcasting — is strictly prohibited and subject to enforcement measures. Violations are not to be taken lightly, as the harmful interference caused by pirate operations sabotages licensed broadcasters serving their communities and puts the valuable public safety contributions of these stations in jeopardy to the detriment of the American people who count on them, including diverse and underserved populations.

Further, the Commission makes clear that it intends to enact a vigorous campaign of enforcement activities to disrupt and permanently terminate all pirate radio stations that are in operation today and prevent those that may attempt to come online in the future. We will collaborate with federal and state law enforcement authorities, as needed, to enhance and complement our enforcement operations. Our effort will include an education component for those entities that may knowingly or unknowingly assist pirate radio operations in any capacity, including building owners and managers, national and local campaigns for political office, media advertisers, radio programming suppliers, concert promoters and venue operators, and equipment manufacturers and importers. All interested parties should be on notice that facilitating pirate radio broadcasting will not be tolerated, and may be subject to enforcement or legal actions, as permitted under law. Accordingly, we seek full cooperation by anyone who may have relevant information to help identify, locate, and take action against the operators and owners of pirate radio stations.