back to article Pirate radio = drug dealing and municipal broadband is anti-competitive censorship

It has long been a sad truth that Washington DC lives within its own distorted universe, but even by DC standards a recent speech by federal regulator Michael O'Rielly is a wonder to behold. O'Rielly is one of four current commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and on occasion is known for his sharp …


    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: If 1984 had a Ministry of Free Speech

      More like Brazil

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        @ Sir Spork -- Re: If 1984 had a Ministry of Free Speech

        More like Brazil

        What...the movie? Or the actual country after its last "election"?

  1. Herby

    At least..

    We here in the good 'ol USA have a First Amendment. Other countries aren't so lucky. Hopefully someone will read it correctly.

    Pirate radio is another thing. Those who do it probably don't know what they might interfere with. The RF spectrum is much like a multi dimensional real-estate bonanza. I doubt that mobile phone users would like their usage interfered with (governments seem to be excluded in this regard though).

    Life goes on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least..

      While pirate stations are against the law, there are far bigger issues in front of the FCC - for example they are paving the way, lifting many limitations, for a single owner to gain control of a lot of broadcasting stations, an owner known for sending pre-written texts to be broadcasted by all stations. Here in Italy we had something alike eighty years ago, it was called MinCulPop (shorthand for Ministry of Popular Culture, very Orwellian...), and sent "veline" - they were written on tissue paper - to radio and newspaper to tell them what they had to say.

      Strange idea of "Free Speech" - seeing the mote in one's brother's eye without noticing the beam in one's own...

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "pirate radio stations are equivalent to drug dealing"

    Oh yeah, totally true. Death by listening to pirate radio is an unknown threat lurking beneath the social health radar. It is something we really, urgently need to pay attention to because the risk is rising every day. It's like the flying mad cows that travel in swarms. Thank goodness I have my Pink Elephant talisman to ward against them.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: "pirate radio stations are equivalent to drug dealing"

      He also forgot those illegal lemonade sellers - those nasty little guys trying to make you dependent on lemonade by selling it outside their house with the complicity of their evil mothers. All without paying federal and state taxes, and worst of all, they didn't bribe a local administrator for a license.

  3. SVV

    Bureaucrat decides bureaucrats decision making powers are frightening

    If that's the case, why not let the locals have a vote on the matter? I hear you pride yourself on democracy over there. Or are you scared that the political donations fro the corporate monopolies you're in the pocket of will dry up when the people inevitably vote for the cheaper municipal option?

  4. Fading

    The true face of democracy....

    So if we banned paid lobbyists (all paid lobbyists irrespective of sector) would this harm democracy in anyway?

    1. Gerhard Mack

      Re: The true face of democracy....

      Lobbyists as an idea are good. It can be helpful to be able to hire someone who knows exactly who to talk to to get things done or know how to advocate a position.

      The problem in the US is that they are able to provide campaign contributions or arrange payments for giving speeches. Any civilized country would consider that illegal since it's outright bribery.

    2. PhilBuk

      Re: The true face of democracy....

      If paid lobbyists were banned, politicians would be bankrupt.


  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    Ooo Oooh

    on the Mexican radiooo!

    I really wonder where these people come from? Pirate radio is a menace?, and the big cheese needs to spearhead taking it down... Shouldn't this job fall to someone down the ladder a ways?

  6. Rol

    Cunksplaining why Americans pay too much for zeros and ones.

    The internet was invented by a Brit, and like so many other Brit inventions, was bought by America for a couple of doughnuts and a free golfing holiday.

    This wasn't a bad thing though, as Britain didn't have the ability to roll out the world-wide infrastructure necessary for www to be a legitimate prefix.

    America used its mighty debt machine to span the world with zeros and ones, and to this day, it is all powered from America. You may remember the Three Mile Island meltdown was due to the power spike created as billions of Chinese got on-line for the first time. The reactor itself saw the sense in getting closer to the power drain source and was only stopped from relocating to China by an eagle-eyed security guard who wouldn't let the reactor leave the site without a security pass.

    Running the World-Wide-Web doesn't come cheap, and it is for this reason Americans pay huge sums for an internet connection.

    Several American companies have been arguing that it is unfair that the total cost of the internet is shouldered by the American public alone, and have taken action against the rest of the world by withholding taxes.

    The rest of the world are now deliberating on a new tax which charges American companies for every zero and one that gets sent from their computers, which looks likely to be countered by the invention of Quantum bits, that will dodge the new tax as they are not a one or a zero, but are on average about a half of 1.

    1. Aladdin Sane

      Re: Cunksplaining why Americans pay too much for zeros and ones.

      Internet's an American invention old bean. You seem to be conflating it with the World Wide Web, which is just a small part of the internet.

      1. Rol

        Re: Cunksplaining why Americans pay too much for zeros and ones.

        I sincerely hope that isn't the only bit you take issue with.

        1. Aladdin Sane

          Re: Cunksplaining why Americans pay too much for zeros and ones.

          It's the only bit that didn't have me reaching for a sedative.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Cunksplaining why Americans pay too much for zeros and ones.

          I sincerely hope that isn't the only bit you take issue with..

          While Poe's Law always applies, I figured the whole thing was trolling (in the traditional Usenet sense). The Three Mile Island part alone pushes it over the top.

          As such, while it's no "shadow in a vacuum", it's not bad. Nice mansplaining tone (I can almost see the author taking the pipe out of his mouth and gesticulating with it while nodding wisely) and an array of pleasantly vague misrepresentations. I'm a bit surprised it didn't hook more fish.

  7. adam payne

    he revealed that pirate radio stations are equivalent to drug dealing, at least in his eyes.

    This guy has some serious issues!

  8. StuntMisanthrope

    An invoice, no I’m a lawyer.

    Having been on the receiving end of ‘ahem’ your disgrace to a derivative of our common law system, which is really sayin’ something. I understand why all the extradition treaties are unilateral. You wouldn’t have any ‘defenders’ of freedom left. #icanbuyyouacoupleofdays #itsbackedbyguvmint

    1. StuntMisanthrope

      Re: An invoice, no I’m a lawyer.

      P.S. Remember that fillum, where the hero, passes the bar exam, just by turning up. It’s a documentary. #doyoutakecheque

  9. FuzzyTheBear

    Nothing changes

    The US is governed by corporate morons. Pirate radio is an essential free speech bastion. When all the media is in the hands of corporations , pirate radio is a defense against censorship applied by the corporations. Restricting free speech and ideas for decades had the effect we now see on America. There is very little free speech left at all ! We play music .. but only what we want you to hear : corporate wh**es that fit in the mold we established as being acceptable , we give you news .. but with a point of view that fits our corporate masters and benefit them by controlling what you think , we give you open airwaves by letting you call in .. with a 7 second delay to make sure our censors have the time to throw you offline if your comment dosen't suit us and/or goes contrary to what we want our listeners to think. We don't want them exposed to the naked truth. Free speech in the USA ? You got to be kidding me .. The only bastion of hope for true free speech in America is pirate radio. There should be a hell of alot more of it.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Nothing changes

      The US is governed by corporate morons

      For morons, they're amazingly successful at achieving their aims. Don't ascribe to stupidity what is better explained by malice.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are some matters properly discussed in a thoughtful and measured way, but this is not one of them.

    What a f*cking a***hole.

  11. steviebuk Silver badge


    ...a fucking tit. That's all I can say.

    "Consider if the publication promoted the locations of nearby buildings or schools where dealers could sell drugs, favored looting of a local grocery store that lost its power, or published detailed instructions on how to steal from the local bank when it upgraded its software in the middle of the night," he reasoned.

  12. SPiT

    Muncipal ISPs

    I'm surprised nobody has pointed out that the american public would have legal redress against a municipal ISP under the first amendment since as part of government they are obliged to respect it whereas the private for profit ISPs aren't obliged to respect it. Seems to me that the threat to the first amendment is the exact opposite of what Mr Oh Really is promoting.

  13. tekHedd

    It's always about control

    They always mask it as arguments about copyrighted content or hate speech, but it's always and only about maintaining control of the media, mainly for profit but also and increasingly for nefarious reasons.

  14. EnviableOne

    Opposite land USA

    "The Media Institute" "Free Speech America Gala"

    are about as acurate as


    USA Freedom Act

    Foreign Inteligence Surveilance Act

    The Protect America Act

    Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

  15. Jay Lenovo

    Clean signal but stale programming

    In time the FCC will feel obligated to regulate the 85-255 Hz ( frequency of the human voice ).

    There are a quite a few countries willing to suppress the unlicensed pirates.

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      Re: Clean signal but stale programming

      I think your range is off; missing a zero, perhaps (2550)?

      I fired up my tone generator app for some empirical data. 85 Hz is just beyond my singing range. I can easily do an octave up (170) and even two (340). My daughters could take the next two (680, 1360) no sweat, and maybe even squeak out 2720 non-sustained. (And that's not counting natural harmonics/overtones!)

  16. Stevie


    I think one problem you have is that when O'Reilly says "Pirate Radio" you envision something like Radio Caroline or Radio North Sea, and he is speaking about people broadcasting from their apartment buildings.

    That sort of unlicensed radio station is actually quite common here in certain parts of the USA.

  17. fobobob

    "In response, I wrote a letter to the editor raising concerns regarding their publication's approach and arguing it should notify the local FCC office of illegal activities rather than romanticize these 'broadcasts' or provide the 'station' with some type of legitimacy,"

    I can't help but feel that the 'sentences' he writes 'read' sort of like a drudgereport 'headline'. You know, since we're clearly free to 'quote' things to delegitimize them, or imply that the word is being used in a way that is not 'coherent' with its dictionary 'definition'.

  18. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Of Slow Learners turned Deep Thinkers ..... COSMIC Tinkerer

    "I would be remiss if my address omitted a discussion of a lesser-known, but particularly ominous, threat to the First Amendment in the age of the Internet: state-owned and operated broadband networks."

    That's right, you just heard an FCC Commissioner say that municipal networks represent a threat to the First Amendment – and an "ominous" one at that. What deranged twist of logic has led him to that conclusion?

    Here is a Similar Conclusion AIred .....

    In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

    The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. .....

    Do U Need Alien Help with Virtualised AIdDevelopments? With the Sweetest and Simplest of Great Texts to Follow/Understand/See/Read Sharing Future Directions with NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Systems Instructions to read for Advanced IntelAIgent Beta Meta Data Live Testing of Premium Quantum Communications Channels .....with Heavenly Waves in Immaculate Ways.

    Tell me that is not XTCSquared and the shock of your finding it so is fundamentally life-changing, even to the extent of it also being life-threatening. Too much of a great thing can kill you stone dead.

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  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Help is exactly what is needed amfM ...

  20. Black Betty

    And now for A Walk in the Black Forest.

    No text

    1. VikiAi

      Re: And now for A Walk in the Black Forest.


  21. Someone Else Silver badge

    You won't have heard of the two media companies - HC2 Broadcasting and iHeartMedia

    Well, that may be true in Merry Old(e), but many of us on this benighted side of the pond have heard of iHeartMedia...but maybe not by that name. iHeartMedia is the corporate shell for iHeartRadio...formerly known as ClearChannel. ClearChannel bought literally thousands of radio stations, both big and small, to try to monopolize and homogenize radio nation wide. They are the reason one can hear such intellectual luminaries as Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and of course, Mr. Oxy himself, Rush Limburger Limbaugh, on anywhere from 2 to 6 radio stations per day in any of the top 100 radio markets nationwide.

    iHeartMedia is the result of restructuring ClearChannel after their bankruptcy in 2016. Ironic, ain't it?


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