The FCC has been deploying new tactics to pursue pirate radio offenders, targeting the owners and landlords of properties where illegal signals are being emitted. But it’s too soon to tell how well the strategy is working.
A review of a commission database as of September shows that the frequency of enforcement actions has seemingly increased this year after a pandemic in which agents had to cut back on field time chasing signal complaints.
The FCC does have a bigger hammer to deploy now. The Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement (PIRATE) Act, signed by President Trump in January 2020, has been “a helpful tool” in the fight against illegal broadcasters, according to the commission. It gives the FCC authority to levy fines of up to $100,000 per violation and up to $2 million total.
Stronger penalties and “the fact that those penalties can now be applied to landlords and others who help illegal broadcasters is a helpful deterrent,” according to an FCC spokesperson. The new law “is a strong tool when we warn those that are facilitating illegal broadcasting, who are then incentivized to stop the pirate radio operations on their property.”
However, no forfeitures have been assessed under the act.
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