Pirate radio

Pirate radio

Pirate radio: There are people out There who have gone beyond passive musical illegalities (music downloads) and into the realm of true Music Pirates. They are the people behind pirate radio. Here’s a little guide.

I’ve downloaded my share of music sans payment and you probably have, too. But there are people out There who have gone beyond the passive musical illegalities and into the realm of true Music Pirates. They are the people behind pirate radio.

What is pirate radio?

Pirate radio is the unlicensed broadcast of FM, AM or shortwave signals over a wide period of range. The organization responsible for the liscensing of radio signals varies in policy from country to country, but nearly all countries do have some sort of policy. Because there are a finite number of radio frequencies audible to humans, it is the belief of most governments that the frequencies should be regulated like other water, electricity and other natural resources. Such regulations are said to not violate the right to freedom of speech because while two books can be simultaniously printed in the same location, if two radio waves were simultaeneously broadcast on the same frequency, neither would be heard. Additionally, it’s very easy for untrained radio operators to unknowningly interfere with other stations’ broadcasts through radio harmonics and resonated frequencies. In the United States, the group reponsible for the regulation of these matters is called the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Like pirate radio (or ‘wireless’, as the radio was called when first invented), the FCC has a fascinating history of trying to create fair policy, sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding. As the situation stands today, applying for a license consists of filling out the appropriate forms with information regarding the technical specifications of your station. You also have to prove that you understand all the technical jargon by sitting an exam and proving that you have the economic capacity to maintain a station for a year by providing financial information. Does that mean that everyone who applies recieves a license? While I was unable to find an exact percent or statistic of the number of licenses granted, I did find that, in addition to refraining from the broadcast of gratuitous violence and obscenities, licensees must use the broadcast medium to serve the public interest.

And therein lies the problem. How does one decide what the ‘public’ is interested in? Off-shore radio (radio broadcasted from a ship, usually in waters outside a country’s jurisdiction) has proliferated in countries such as Taiwan and China because the political, resistance-charged messages the operators want to send the people would conflict with the messages the government claims the public should be interested in. In politcally-stable America, the claim is often made that the FCC shows partiality to bigger, more commercial broadcasting stations.

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