Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


FCC Confirms Huge Fine Against Radio Impacto 2

It calls it an “egregious” and “longstanding illicit” pirate operation

The FCC has confirmed a record pirate radio fine of $2.3 million against the operators of an unlicensed station in New York City.

The commission says César Ayora and Luis Angel Ayora never replied to its notice of apparent liability issued last March. The FCC says the Ayoras are guilty of the “longstanding illicit operation of an unauthorized radio station known as Radio Impacto 2” on 105.5 MHz in Queens.

“Some of the most egregious pirate radio operations are run by individuals who have ignored prior enforcement actions by the commission,” the FCC wrote. “This is one such case. As such, it merits the strongest possible enforcement measures to the fullest extent of the law.”

Separately the FCC affirmed a fine of $80,000 against Thomas Barnes for alleged pirate radio broadcasting on 100.5 MHz in La Grande, Ore., for operating “Eastern Oregon Pirate Radio.”

It said he too did not reply to its notice of liability, though in that case the FCC said the radio operation had ceased by April of last year.

These two were the first fines proposed under the PIRATE Act, which became law more than three years ago and provides for much bigger penalties than in the past.

Collecting pirate penalties over time has proven to be much harder for the government than issuing them. In both of these cases the operators are told to pay within 30 days. “If the forfeiture is not paid within the period specified, the case may be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for enforcement,” the FCC wrote. 

In the Queens case, the commission says copies of its notice in March were sent to the operators by first class and certified mail. The certified mail was returned, the first-class mail was not.

The FCC wrote in March: “As part of their PIRATE Act investigation [of Radio Impacto 2], FCC Enforcement Bureau Agents found scores of apparent violations between March and September 2022, including multiple weekly on-air radio programs. The Ayoras even advertised their pirate radio station for no less than 25 weeks, and continue to operate their unauthorized station to date.”

The commission previously had issued Luis Angel Ayora a $20,000 forfeiture in 2015, which it said earlier had never been paid. “In 2016, the U.S. Marshals Service executed a warrant in rem and seized the Ayoras’ broadcasting equipment,” according to the FCC’s NAL.

Radio Impacto 2 has not replied to Radio World’s efforts to contact it for comment.

Ecuador connection

As we reported earlier, the website of Radio Impacto 2 calls it “The Official Radio of Ecuadorians in New York” and gives the impression of a substantial operation. 

The site lists studios in New York and Ecuador. In the past the website also has featured ads from familiar brands like All-State and Verizon Wireless. This week the home page carried Spanish-language ads for electronics as well as an apparent PSA from the New York State Department of Health for Covid vaccines.

Earlier this year, the “About Us” page provided this station history in Spanish, translated here by Google: “The brothers César and Angel Ayora in September 2008 founded the first Ecuadorian FM radio station in New York City. After having acquired enough experience in the radio market in the U.S. and being part of some radio projects, including the program ‘Fiesta Grande’ for 7 years on the frequency 1430 AM (for New York-New Jersey-Connecticut) together with the enthusiastic broadcaster Rigoberto Pinzon, the opportunity was given in 2008 to rent the 91.9 FM frequency, the same one that for 8 years was the bearer of the message to compatriots residing in the Big Apple.”

It continued: “In 2016 we decided to expand our coverage by switching to 105.5 FM, a frequency that currently identifies us as the official radio station for Ecuadorians in N.Y. The station that never sleeps, because a team of communication professionals are working for you 24 hours a day, offering you the best programming and all the latest in Music – News – Sports – Entertainment and more … We support ourselves with Austro Producciones Technology Corp. to connect with our booth in Ecuador and more broadcasts from abroad. Thank you for tuning in in these 13 years of being on the air.”

The “About Us” page now carries a shorter version of the above text. 

The station’s Facebook page has 142,000 followers.

[Sign Up for Radio World’s SmartBrief Newsletter]