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FCC Plans $10,000 Penalty Against Alleged Radio Pirate

Ozark interloper is unlicensed

The Federal Communications Commission is moving toward issuing a $10,000 Notice of Apparent Liability against an individual accused of allegedly operating an unlicensed radio station in Arkansas.

In August 2018, according to an FCC summary of the case, the commission received a complaint from a consumer that an unauthorized station was operating in Alma, Ark., a town of 5,419 near the Ozark Mountains. An agent from the commission’s New Orleans field office investigated in October and observed what appeared to be a broadcast station operating on 103.1 MHz.

[Read: Justice Department Steps in to Stop Alleged Pirate Operation]

Using direction-finding techniques, agents attempted to inspect a site on Fayetteville Ave., but, according to the FCC, they were rebuffed by Gerald Sutton, who refused the agent’s request to conduct an inspection. Soon after the agent’s arrival, the transmitter was turned off, though the agent reported it was turned back on after the agent departed the site.

In November, Sutton was sent a Notice of Unlicensed Operation and informed that the alleged operation must be discontinued immediately as it was in violation of Section 301 of the Communications Act. But Sutton responded via a letter saying that the act did not apply to him.

The FCC now states in a notice of apparent liability that that Sutton willfully violated the act and proposed a monetary forfeiture of $10,000. Sutton has 30 days to pay or file a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation.

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