A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act or “PIRATE” Act to allow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fine someone who “willfully and knowingly” operates an unlicensed radio station up to $100,000 for each day they’re on the air – up to a maximum $2 million per incident. The current maximum fine is $19,246 per day for each violation or each day up to a statutory maximum of $144,344.
The landlords and any business providing “physical goods or services” to the unlicensed station would also be subject to the fines – this provision is meant as an indirect deterrent aimed at advertisers buying time on some of the more sophisticated pirate stations.
The National Association of Broadcasters said it “strongly supports” the legislation. “Pirate radio is a real threat to public health and safety, causes interference to legal radio broadcasts and flouts the rule of law,” spokesman Dennis Wharton said.
The bill has been sent to the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.