Tag Archives: FM Pirate radio

FCC: Pirate Act now targets property owners with fines up to $2 Million

Photo by Ben Koorengevel

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Benn Kobb, who shares the following press release from the FCC:


Media Contact:
Will Wiquist, (202) 418-0509
will.wiquist@fcc.gov

For Immediate Release

FCC ENFORCEMENT BUREAU WARNS PROPERTY OWNERS AND
MANAGERS OF SIGNIFICANT NEW FINANCIAL PENALTIES FOR
ALLOWING ILLEGAL BROADCASTING ON THEIR PROPERTY

Notice Could Precede Fines of Up to $2 Million Under the PIRATE Act

WASHINGTON, December 17, 2020—The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau today announced it
has begun targeting property owners and managers that knowingly tolerate pirate broadcasting
on their properties, exercising the Commission’s new authority under the recently enacted
PIRATE Act. Parties that knowingly facilitate illegal broadcasting on their property are liable
for fines of up to $2 million.

“Pirate radio is illegal and can interfere with not only legitimate broadcast stations’ business
activities but also those stations’ ability to inform the public about emergency information,”
said Rosemary Harold, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. “It is unacceptable – and plainly
illegal under the new law – for landlords and property managers to simply opt to ignore pirate
radio operations. Once they are aware of these unauthorized broadcasts, they must take steps
to stop it from continuing in their buildings or at other sites they own or control. If they do not
do so, they risk receiving a heavy fine, followed by collection action in court if they do not pay
it. In addition, our enforcement actions will be made public, which may create further
unforeseen business risks.”

Under the new authority, the Enforcement Bureau will provide written notice to property
owners and managers the agency has reason to believe are turning a blind eye to – or even
helping facilitate – illegal broadcasting. These new Notices of Illegal Pirate Radio
Broadcasting also will afford parties a period of time to remedy the problem before any
enforcement action moves forward. In the first such notices, issued today to property owners
regarding their buildings in New York City, the respective parties were given 10 days to
respond. The Bureau will consider any response before taking further action.

Commission investigations have found that landlords and property managers too often are
aware of this illegal activity taking place on their premises. The Commission has previously
sent warnings to landlords and even sought cooperation from national property owners’
organizations in raising awareness. With pirate broadcasts persisting despite these efforts,
Congress took action and empowered the Commission to penalize property owners and
managers that knowingly permit pirate broadcasters to remain operating from the landlord’s
buildings or unbuilt areas. Landlords and property managers also may be found liable if a
pirate station ceases operation for some period of time but later resumes at the same site.

Separately, the Enforcement Bureau and the Office of the Managing Director also released
today an Order amending the Commission’s rules to implement the new enforcement authority
granted by Congress through section 2 of the PIRATE Act, as codified in 47 U.S.C. § 511.
Notices of Illegal Pirate Radio Broadcasting are available at:

Notice: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-368827A1.pdf
Notice: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-368817A1.pdf
Notice: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-368826A1.pdf

The PIRATE Act is available at: https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ109/PLAW116publ109.pdf.

###

Media Relations: (202) 418-0500 / ASL: (844) 432-2275 / Twitter: @FCC / www.fcc.gov
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC, 515 F.2d 385 (D.C. Cir. 1974).

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FCC reaches settlement with church-related pirate radio station

Photo by Michael Maasen

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ron, who shares the following news via the ARRL:

After filing a civil action and seeking an injunction to stop a church-related pirate radio station from operating in Worcester, Massachusetts, the US Attorney’s Office this week reached a settlement with the station’s operators, Vasco Oburoni and Christian Praise International Church. US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Rosemary Harold announced the settlement on June 10. […]According to a consent decree filed on June 10 and subject to court approval, Oburoni and Christian Praise International Church agree not to do so in the future. They also agreed to surrender all of their broadcasting equipment.

“In the event the FCC reasonably suspects that they have violated the Act, the FCC may inspect the premises and seize any broadcasting equipment,” an FCC news release said. If the FCC determines that “the defendants” have operated an unlicensed broadcasting station in violation of the settlement, they will be subject to a $75,000 fine. The FCC received complaints, including one from a licensed broadcaster, that the pirate station was causing interference.

According to the signed consent decree, Vasco Oburoni and Christian Praise International Church admitted that they operated a radio broadcast station in Worcester, on 97.1 MHz, without an FCC license and previously had operated an unlicensed radio station on 102.3 MHz. The FCC had issued multiple warnings and issued a Forfeiture Order in the amount of $15,000 against Oburoni. The FCC said Oburoni agreed to a payment plan but later began broadcasting again without a license on a different frequency.

Click here to read the full story at the ARRL.

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New Jersey FM Pirate fined $25,000

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, @UlisK3LU, who notes that New Jersey pirate radio station operator, Winston Tulloch (KC2ALN), has been fined $25,000 for operating an unlicensed station on 90.9 MHz FM.  According to the FCC, the hefty penalty comes after after multiple requests to halt broadcasting starting in February 2015. The station was finally taken off the air in September 2017.

Click here to read the full FCC Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (PDF).

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FCC cracking down on Colorado pirates

Way High Radio’s studio.

(Source: Westword via Mike Hansgen)

Will the FCC Sink Pirate Radio in Colorado?

Word spread quickly about the mysterious unmarked black SUV parked at a highway exit just outside the town of Ward on January 24. In the self-sufficient mountain community perched at 9,500 feet, strangers always attract attention. But the strangers in the SUV weren’t just a curiosity; they were enforcement agents with the Federal Communications Commission, and they presented a real threat to a beloved community resource.

Since 1997, Ward had played host to an unlicensed FM radio station called Way High Radio. Colloquially known as “pirate” stations, radio operations such as Way High Radio are expressly forbidden by the FCC, which regulates America’s airwaves. That the station had been able to illegally broadcast from 90.5 FM for so many years was largely thanks to the isolation of the mountain town, roughly an hour-and-a-half drive from the FCC’s enforcement office in Denver.

When DJ Willy (not his real name) heard about the federal agents parked near town, he got a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. This was a moment he’d been dreading for a long time. But he’d also studied up on FCC enforcement, and knew the agents would want to catch someone actually inside the radio station’s studio, a small trailer located next to Ward’s town hall with an antenna on top and a wooden sign that proclaimed “Office of Human Rights.”[…]

Continue reading the full article at Westword.

Click here to view Way High Radio’s website.

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Alabama FM pirate fined $15,000

(Source: WAFF)

A Guntersville man is being slapped with a $15,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission. They say he’s been operating an illegal radio station.

Some people in the neighborhood say they were aware of Michael Dudley’s radio operation. Others say they weren’t, but many people say it’s a pretty stiff penalty.

The FCC shut down the makeshift radio station running from Dudley’s home. In documents from the FCC, Dudley was confronted twice last year for sending music through the airwaves on 103.9 FM without a license. The first time was a warning. The second prompted the fine.[…]

Read the forfeiture order here.

Click here to watch WAFF video coverage.

Read the full article at WAFF online.

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FCC Commissioner outlines 2016 anti-pirate agenda

fcc-logoMany thanks to an anonymous SWLing Post contributor who writes:

The FCC released this material [yesterday]. It consists mainly of letters to various organizations to ask their members to avoid cooperating with unlicensed radio stations.

The concern is that real estate owners may be harboring unauthorized stations, and that businesses may support such stations with advertising funds.

I would point you to an interesting opinion on the subject by Prof. John Anderson:

O’Rielly Outlines Anti-Pirate Agenda for 2016

John references this recent YouTube video clip of a Congressional hearing where FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is questioned on the FCC’s enforcement efforts:

Again, I am not the source of the following material–the FCC is:

STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER MICHAEL O’RIELLY ON PIRATE RADIO ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY.

STMT. News Media Contact: Robin Colwell at (202) 418-2300, email: Robin.Colwell@fcc.gov  OCMO https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-338021A1.docx
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-338021A1.pdf

Released:  03/01/2016.  FCC ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY: PERSONS OR BUSINESSES OPERATING “PIRATE” BROADCAST STATIONS ARE SUBJECT TO ENFORCEMENT ACTION. (DA No.  16-159)  This Enforcement Advisory discusses the rules that prohibit “pirate” radio, explains to the public at large what broadcast actions are illegal, why such activities may harm the public, and what do to in case someone suspects “pirate” broadcasts.  EB . News Media Contact: Will Wiquist at (202) 418-0509, email: Will.Wiquist@fcc.gov

https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A1.docx
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A10.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A11.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A12.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A13.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A2.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A3.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A4.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A5.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A6.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A7.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A8.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A9.pdf
https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-159A1.pdf

Note that the bulk of this report focuses on FM/AM radio pirates in local markets rather than shortwave pirates (though I’m sure, on occasion, shortwave pirates are on the FCC radar).

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FCC: Remarks on the Growth of Pirate Radio

SX-99-Dial-NarMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bob, who writes:

Remarks on the Growth of Pirate Radio from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Communications and Technology Subcommittee, November 17, 2015:

“I know that this committee is concerned about pirate radio. During my tenure we have taken 280 enforcement actions against pirate radio, that’s in the last two years. Commissioner [Michael] O’Rielly has been a real leader in keeping us focused on this. We’re working with the NAB [National Association of Broadcasters] on a joint task force on pirate radio. But we need more tools.

“We’re playing whack-a-mole with pirate radio. Every time a pirate radio station pops up, we whack it. We need to have consequences for those who facilitate those stations popping up. The landlords who look the other way, because helping pirates is risk-free.

“Congress could make it illegal to aid or abet pirate radio operations. Denying them the opportunity to operate in this way would be a significant means of thwarting the continued growth of pirate radio.”

http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/oversight-federal-communications-commission-1

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