Chances are, when you’ve tired of your 19th straight listen to Black Eyed Pea’s latest jam, or can no longer stand the banal, pre-fabricated opinions that litter the FM airwaves, you have stumbled across a true San Francisco gem — 87.9 fm, Pirate Cat Radio. Chances are if you have tried to find it again this last month, you’ve heard only static.
That is because the FCC recently put an end to Pirate Cat’s 13-year reign of terrestrial broadcasting, and fined PCR founder Monkey $10,000. The FCC sites a breach in section 301 of the US Communications Act of 1934, which forbids any person from transmitting signals by radio from within the United States without a license.
Pirate Cat has always been aware of this breach, but argue that they are legally allowed to do so. They cite the US Code Federal Regulations Title 47 Section 73.3542, which authorizes broadcasting without a license in times of national emergency, or continued involvement in a war.
The FCC’s order has volunteers and listeners livid. In a statement posted on Pirate Cat’s website, Monkey argues that since the FCC was first established to provide fair, efficient, and equitable distribution of radio service to serve the public interest, shutting down a radio station which does just that is preposterous and hypocritical.
The statement continues:
Pirate Cat Radio provides an important community service one that has been recognized by the Board of Supervisors in a certificate of honor. They are one of the best sources of news and regularly broadcast Al Jazeera and BBC bulletins. The news is read in every 2-hour DJ slot. They make regular valuable PSAs and publicize local events. They take an active approach to involving the community, by bringing local unsung heroes and talents into the studio. Pirate Cat Radio provides a voice and outlet for many sections of the community of the Bay Area which cannot make themselves heard anywhere else.
Monkey and other staff have agreed to comply with the FCC’s cease and desist in order to protect supporters and volunteers from subsequent punishment. Pirate Cat Radio will continue to broadcast online as they search for a way to contest the actions taken by the FCC.