NABOB Wants Action on Piracy


Broadcasting PirateThe US Marine Corps famously went all the way to “the shores of Tripoli” to combat piracy. All the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters wants is for a little FCC action here in America.

The issue is spectrum piracy, many of which NABOB says focus on the same audiences as its members.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, NABOB said there are a small number of respectable-yet-illegal pirate FM operations, but noted that they were the exception. “Many pirates garner audience by playing music and other material that would violate the Commission’s indecency rules if aired by licensed stations.”

The pirates dilute the audience of stations that uphold FCC public service obligations, including the provision of news and information programming and EAS alerts, among many other things.

NABOB added, “[S]ome of these illegal pirate stations cause harmful interference to legitimate minority owned radio stations, thereby preventing our members from reaching portions of the communities they are licensed to serve. Increasing minority ownership in radio broadcasting becomes much more difficult with unrestrained pirate operations.”

NABOB noted that it is sure that the FCC does not condone pirate stations, but adds that the failure to enforce the rules sends the message that they have a right to exist.

The organization stated, “We concluded that we applaud Chairman Wheeler’s recent statements about the need for increased pirate radio enforcement, and we applaud the Commission’s efforts to increase minority ownership in the media. We added that we hope that the Commission will keep both issues as top priorities as it moves forward with the restructuring of the Enforcement Bureau.”

RBR+TVBR observation: What about a dragnet? Couldn’t local broadcasters, the FCC and appropriate law enforcement agencies get together, determine where the pirates are in a given market and execute a massive sting over the course of a short period of time?

Local broadcasters can provide the frequencies being commandeered; FCC agents can trace their origins, and law enforcement can add muscle and authority to the bust.

Maybe a program can be initiated to donate confiscated broadcast equipment to charity – we don’t know the law on this, but maybe such broadcast hardware can be put to legal use by the non-commercial LPFM community.

And Congress – how about giving the FCC the power to put a serious financial hurt on these stations, particularly those operated by repeat offenders. A $10,000 base fine simply doesn’t cut it – if the pirate is making any money at all, that is simply a cost of doing business.

Why don’t we rustle up a posse and organize a Put the Buccaneers Out of Business Day in each radio market that needs it?