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Pirate radio targeted by US officials with aggressive new law

The FCC has begun a national clampdown... 

Pirate radio is being targeted by US officials, with an aggressive new law having passed the House of Representatives and set to be put before the Senate imminently.

The PIRATE Act (Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement) was first presented in 2018, but did not receive Senate approval before the previous session ended. Now reintroduced by Democrat Paul Tonko (NY) and Republican Gus Bilirakis (FL), it was approved by the House on Friday 22nd February. 

The move reflects the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) growing desire to clamp down on pirate radio across the US. Last February a Colorado outlet, Way High Radio, was targeted, but DJs managed to shut their FM signal down remotely, switching to a digital stream-only format. 

In December the FCC's enforcement chief, Rosemary Harold, made it clear that there was a renewed interest in getting unlicensed broadcasts off the air during an interview with Inside 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," said Harold. 

In the same month a New York operation was taken off air, and more recently a Texan pirate broadcaster was closed down for airing controversial political commentator Alex Jones' 'Infowars'. 

In the UK pirate radio played a pivotal role in the emergence of rave culture during the early-1990s, including laying down the roots of Rinse FM, the now-legal station that unveiled a raft of new names for its roster in October. Pirate culture also inspired the hit comedy show 'People Just Do Nothing', which has just had a US spin-off series confirmed.