Following a rumor that has been widely reported regarding the FCC's intentions to downsize its field office, Radio Ink has confirmed that the Commission is considering the downsizing from an FCC spokesperson. With the Commission taking fewer and fewer actions against pirates, this news will be troublesome for many broadcasters, especially those in markets where pirate signals are still a major issue.
In a very governmental sounding response, an FCC spokesperson responded to Radio Ink's inquires regarding the rumor of downsizing in the field office, "The Commission recently completed a thorough, data-driven review of our field programs with an eye toward improving efficiency while meeting our responsibilities both today and in the future. The commissioners are considering a proposal that meets these goals."
Radio Ink reported last month that actions against AM/FM and shortwave pirate stations last year were at their lowest level since 2000. In 2014 there were fewer than 200 actions against pirates. Markets including New York, New Jersey, Florida and Boston are still hot spots for pirate broadcast activity.
When pressed by the attendee's at the Radio Ink Hispanic Radio Conference regarding pirate enforcement, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn commented that the reduction in actions on pirate signals was in part attributable to ensuring safety to the field officers. Clyburn said, "Some of the challenges include security for our men and women out in the field. The challenge is manpower and security [for our teams]. It's like Whack-a-Mole. When we shut them down, they pop up again. We need to figure out what makes them popular and profitable and to fulfill those needs in different ways."
Considering the very real issue regarding the safety of field officers, the data showing that the FCC has taken fewer actions against pirates in recent years, and now the conformation of the FCC considering downsizing of the field office personnel, the worry for licensed broadcasters has to be that this "perfect storm" may lead to even more problems, and fewer actions against pirates.
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