Why NYSBA Says Pirate Problem Getting Worse

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pirateskullFor the past four years, the New York State Broadcasters Association has been tracking illegal radio operators in that state and neighboring northern New Jersey. The number keeps going up. NYSBA President David Donovan tells RBR+TVBR in an interview what his member station owners want to see happen.


The study, conducted by Maryland-based engineering consultants Meintel, Sgrignoli and Wallace, found 76 stations apparently operating without a license. The study has always taken measurements in four locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Newark and Patterson, NJ.

The 29 Brooklyn pirates represented a 58% increase from the year before. The study estimates there may be 100+ pirates operating in the New York City metro now. MSW says the figures are estimates because the field measurements were done in March and more pirates operate in the warmer months and because measurements are done in four locations only.

Donovan says he began having the studies conducted because he’s been receiving interference complaints from licensed station owners. He notes many pirates are exceeding allowable RF emissions, endangering the public and pirate broadcasts interfere, not only with the signal of a legitimate station, but also with EAS.

Consumers listening to legitimate stations won’t hear EAS alerts because of interference, and that interference may block the legitimate station’s ability to receive and then pass on the alert, says Donovan, who used to work for former FCC Commissioner Jim Quello at the commission.

When asked what the association would like the FCC to do, he said: “Our hope has been the FCC will increase the resources needed to enforce against pirate radio, such as more manpower and increasing fines.” He’d also like the commission to hold building owners who knowingly allow pirates to operate to be held accountable.

The enforcement advisory released by the agency earlier this year is a start, but the commission needs the resources to “make it happen,” he tells us.

“The FCC should use existing laws” as deterrents, to existing and future pirate operators, says Donovan.