Boosting FCC fines to as much as $2 million, penalizing building owners and stepping up raids in major Radio markets are among the options Congress is considering for combating illegal broadcast operations under legislation unveiled last week in a House Telecommunications Subcommittee hearing. The measures are intended to protect against interference with licensed broadcasters, the Emergency Alert System and airport flight controls, as well as radiation exposure to nearby residents and workers.
The bipartisan PIRATE Act, co-authored by Reps. Leonard Lance, R-NJ, and Paul Tonko, D-NY, would employ a combination of heightened penalties to stem the growing spread of pirate radio operations in communities throughout the country. Illegal operations are being found on the AM and FM bands alike, with FCC enforcement officers discovering transmitters operating from rooftops, balconies and other properties.
What Happened to My Station?
It’s been good season for tropospheric ducting along the New England shore. You might not be familiar with the term “tropospheric ducting,” but you just might have experienced it and not known why.
We’re all familiar with the way that AM signals bounce at night and come down far from their point of origin. Anyone who has listened to the big 50,000 Watt clear channel AMs knows the thrill of hearing a distant AM on a regular radio. I was once surprised to hear WBZ from Boston while in a traffic jam one night in Atlanta, Georgia. An AM station’s “skywave” component reflects off the ionosphere as it cools down at night and the usually transparent-to-AM layer turns reflective and the AM signal comes back to earth far from it’s transmitter. Frequency and tower height influence the degree of skywave along with seasonal differences and weather conditions.
Citing low publicity surrounding an order adopted by the FCC in March 2016 and lack of input from LPFM stations, REC Networks has filed a motion for either a blanket waiver or extension of time for LPFMs.
Currently the FCC has established that all EAS participants must report some EAS details to their State Emergency Communications Committees by Nov. 6. The information includes:
A separate reporting requirement due by Nov. 13, known as Form Three, should detail the results of the most recent National EAS Test.
As announced in October 2015 in the AM Order the commission had opened a special filing window for FM translators for use with AM radio stations. This is a two part window, with the first part open now for the next six months – ending July 28, 2016. The second window will be for three months opening July 29th and closing October 31st, 2016.
The current window is for Class C and D AM licensees only. The second round in July will be for AM stations of any class. Applications are processed on a first come first serve basis. So timing is of the essence. It is important to get started immediately.
During the window periods AM stations or permittees are being given the opportunity to acquire and relocate one FM translator station in the non reserved band – 92.1 – 107.9 Mhz. The translator may be relocated up to 250 miles.
Only one application may be filed by the AM station and may only be listed as the primary input on a single translator application.