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As Legislation Sits in Senate, Pirate Activity Continues in Force

Illegal, unlicensed activity continues to be investigated in New York radio market

The New York metro area has long been known as a hotbed of pirate radio activity and the approaching summer of 2019 looks to be no exception — even as steps are being taken by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to further crack down on unauthorized radio broadcasts.

Neighborhoods like the Canarsie and Brownsville areas of Brooklyn remain key spots of interest for field agents from the FCC. Most recently, the agents from the FCC Enforcement Bureau have issued Notices of Unlicensed Operation to property owners in a number of multifamily dwellings and commercial properties. For example, Melba Reid of Brooklyn was issued a notice after field agents investigated an allegedly unlicensed FM station operating on the frequency 101.7 MHz from a multifamily dwelling in the Brownsville area of Brooklyn. In that case, agents noted that Reid is the owner of the property.

[Read: PIRATE Act a Good First Step But More Needed, NJBA Says]

In another case, agents investigated an unlicensed FM station operating on the frequency 92.5 MHz in the same Brownsville area and noted that the signals were allegedly emanating from a commercial property owned by Pitkin Avenue Realty LLC. The nearby Pitkin Dollar Store in Brooklyn was also roped in when agents delivered a notice to Syed Uddin for allegedly operating an unlicensed FM station on the same frequency from that location. Agents said that Uddin is listed as the property owner.

Those same agents also issued a notice of unlicensed operation to Yvrose Etienne for allegedly operating on the frequency 90.1 MHz in the Canarsie area of Brooklyn. The agents confirmed by direction-finding techniques that signals were emanating from a multifamily dwelling on E. 98th St., of which Etienne is the registered owner.

Property owners who live a distance from the alleged pirate activity are also being roped in.

Field agents recently sent a notice to David Glassford of the Bronx about an alleged unlicensed FM radio station 50 miles away in Bridgeport, Conn. That multifamily dwelling is owned by Glassford.

What Reid, Uddin, Etienne and Glassford have in common is that they are property owners. That distinction has been a priority for the both the FCC and organizations like the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, which has called on Congress to give a bit more bite to the pirate radio legislation being considered in the Senate by holding landlords accountable for permitting illegal pirate activities on their property.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly has also called on lawmakers to actively discourage their constituents in the greater New York City market from facilitating pirate radio activities in any way — including listening, advertising or leasing space to those operators.

In mid-May the PIRATE Act cleared yet another hurdle when members of the Senate Commerce Committee voted unanimously to support S.R. 1228 and refer it to the full Senate for a vote. The House’s companion version of the bill passed earlier this year.

As far as the alleged operators go, the FCC warned each one that they have 10 days from the date of the notice to respond with proof that they have authority from the FCC to operate a radio station.

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