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FCC Settles With Two Beantown Radio Pirates

Says the two Boston-area operators agreed to shut down, pay fines and destroy their gear

The Federal Communications Commission says it reached a settlement with two operators of pirate radio stations in the Boston area.

It said Acerome Jean Charles and Gerlens Cesar admit fault, will pay fines and agreed to 20-year compliance commitments. And they’ll dispose of their radio equipment.

It’s an unexpected development. In December the FCC issued notices of apparent liability to the men for operating Radio Concorde and Radio TeleBoston, respectively.

“The Enforcement Bureau negotiated the two Consent Decrees, which provide for a strict compliance plan over a period of 20 years to prevent Jean Charles and Cesar from ever resuming unlicensed broadcasting,” the commission announced.

“Jean Charles has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $4,000, and to pay a further penalty of $75,000 if he violates section 301 of the Act or violates the terms of  the Consent Decree; Cesar has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $5,000, and agreed to pay a further penalty of $225,000 if he violates section 301 of the Act or violates the terms of the Consent Decree.”

One might imagine the two men feel they got off lightly. In December the FCC proposed forfeitures of $151,005 and $450,000 in this case, the latter being the largest fine ever proposed by the FCC against a pirate radio operation. [Read details here.] And subsequently, federal law was changed to allow even higher penalties in pirate radio cases.

The FCC said then that Cesar, operator of Radio TeleBoston, had allegedly broadcast three unauthorized transmitters on two different frequencies, which led it to propose the maximum penalty amount for all three transmitters.

Chairman Ajit Pai said in December that the NALs in this case were intended to send a strong signal that the FCC will not tolerate unlicensed radio broadcasting. In each case, he said then, the operator in question was given multiple warnings that he was violating the law.

Now both have ceased broadcasting and “have agreed not to materially assist anyone else committing such acts,” according to the FCC.

Boston is one of the cities most plagued by illegal radio operators, as we’ve reported at various times.