A relatively new law in New York City supplements FCC enforcement of radio piracy by adding possible stints in jail to the FCC’s monetary penalties and is chasing some pirates online. However, they face the same challenge licensed broadcasters face — monetizing a streamed station.
According to Vox Media’s The Verge, New York has long been a hotbed of FM banditry, in part due to the dearth of spectrum and in part due to the high number of imported cultures that have gathered in the NYC melting pot and seek their own voice.
There is a Class A element to this story, but it’s not the kind of Class A pirates want to hear about. Sure, they’d love to get their hands on a Class A FM station; but instead, by running an illegal FM station they instead are liable to be charged and convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, which could involve a period of residence in the city’s jail system.
There are no legal impediments whatsoever to broadcasting online, and the startup costs are significantly less expensive than operating an FM station.
However, a population used to listening to radio in the car, in the kitchen or on the front stoop is not at all used to hearing the same station online. And the difficulty of attracting listeners makes it difficult to sell advertising, the lifeblood of radio stations both pirate and legitimate.