photo: Hossam el-Hamalawy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The FCC wants a bigger stick to crack down on pirate radio stations across the United States.

The Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act (PIRATE) gives the FCC more tools to tackle illegal pirate operations.  The bill recently passed the House, and is now shuttling to the Senate side.

The measure was put forth last year and passed the House before failing to pass the Senate before the session expired.  The measure was reintroduced by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) last month and passed House approval on Friday.

The FCC has taken a renewed interest in cracking down on pirate radio stations broadcasting across the country.  In February of 2018, agents attempted to crack down on a Colorado pirate radio station called Way High Radio.  However, the DJs responsible for the station devised a way to shut down the FM signal remotely, and the agents walked away empty handed.

Later that day, an update went up on the Way High station’s Facebook page, mentioning the attempted raid.

“Good afternoon Way High Family. We are under attack from the FCC and are stream only at this time. This is your government in action, taking away more lines of communication, as they hide behind a directive of protecting us…

“We feel the FCC’s actions are a direct threat to our mountain community.”

The FCC crackdown is now nationwide. In an interview with Inside Radio on December 22nd, the FCC enforcement chief Rosemary Harold admitted that the FCC has a renewed interest in stopping pirate radio.

“[The FCC] is very interested in pursuing pirates. It has become a higher priority for the Enforcement Bureau than it had been in the recent past.”

Other states are seeing a crackdown on local broadcasts, too.  Most recently a pirate broadcaster in Texas was shut down for airing Alex Jones’ Infowars.  Another pirate station in New York was busted just last December.