The populous New York City area has long been one of the U.S. broadcast markets most troubled by illegal FM radio operators. Now the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has issued 16 more warnings to landowners in the region about apparent pirate broadcasts from their properties.
This is the result of the first regular “sweeps” that the FCC is now required to conduct regularly in the largest markets where pirate radio is a problem. The market sweeps began late last year, as we reported earlier. But the warnings are a continuation of a campaign of sending letters to landlords and property owners as the FCC carries out its charge from Congress under the PIRATE Act. Letters began going out in late 2020.
“The law is clear: Owners can no longer turn a blind eye to pirate radio operations on their property,” said Loyaan A. Egal, chief of the Enforcement Bureau, in a press release Tuesday.
“Such activities can interfere with licensed broadcast signals and do not meet the emergency alerting responsibilities of lawful radio stations.”
[Related: “FCC Publishes Pirate Enforcement Database”]
The National Association of Broadcasters welcomed the news. Senior Vice President of Communications Alex Siciliano said in a statement, “In recent years, reductions of FCC field enforcement led directly to increased pirate activity and required congressional action to provide the additional tools necessary to effectively combat these illegal operators by placing liability on the landowners who facilitate them. With full funding of the 2020 PIRATE Act now in place, NAB looks forward to regular enforcement sweeps that will help maintain order on the public airwaves.”
The property owners are informed that agents had detected unlicensed signals from their properties and that the owners are at risk of significant financial penalties (currently around $116,000 per day and a max of $2.3 million). The letters also demand proof that the broadcasting has ceased and request identification of the individuals involved. The list of notices is here.
The FCC has sent many such letters but in March, it announced its first formally proposed fines under the PIRATE Act. That case also involves the New York City area. César Ayora and Luis Angel Ayora face a possible record fine of more than $2.3 million for operating “Radio Impacto 2.” Its website calls it “The Official Radio of Ecuadorians in New York.”