President signs Daines’ bipartisan PIRATE Act into law

The president on Jan. 24 signed into law a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) in his chamber to increase penalties for pirate radio.

“Honored to have gotten this important bipartisan bill signed into law on behalf of Montana local radio and rural broadcasters,” Sen. Daines said on Jan. 26. “Thankful to President Trump for taking action to stop illegal pirate radio operations and hold them accountable to the law.”

Sen. Daines in April 2019 sponsored the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement (PIRATE) Act, S. 1228, with U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), which is the identical bill to the same-named H.R. 583 that was signed into law. H.R. 583 was introduced in January 2019 by U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Paul Tonko (D-NY).

The bill enhances existing Federal Communications Commission action to reduce pirate radio broadcasters; defines pirate radio broadcasting as unlicensed transmission in the AM/FM frequencies; permits enforcement sweeps, creates a database and reporting requirements, and sets a fine of not more than $100,000 per day with a maximum fine of $2 million, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Daines’ office.

“My bipartisan bill protects law-abiding broadcasters and ensures their voices can be heard across Montana, free from the disruption and interference of illegal pirate broadcasters,” said Sen. Daines earlier this month.