Two alleged pirate radio stations outside of Boston received what was undoubtedly a disrupting visit on March 26 when representatives from the U.S. Marshals Service and Boston Police Department seized the stations’ broadcasting equipment.
According to court documents released on Wednesday March 28, the agencies descended on two alleged operators that the Federal Communications Commission said had long been operating without a license. The first, “Big City,” allegedly broadcasted at various times on 100.3 FM, 105.3 FM, and 101.3 FM from Dorchester, Mass., and had a studio in Roxbury, Mass. The second, “B87.7 FM,” allegedly operated on 87.7 FM from Dorchester.
The move is notable both for the equipment seizure and the announcement that the Department of Justice, the FCC and local police enforcement worked together. The FCC said it had issued multiple warnings to these alleged operators without avail; the stations continued to broadcast, according to a Department of Justice release.
The forfeiture actions were brought after the FCC received complaints, including a complaint from a licensed broadcaster about interference with its radio signal. The agencies followed federal forfeiture steps and seized equipment allegedly being operated by each radio station at that station’s antenna location.
“When pirate radio stations refuse to cease operations, despite multiple warnings, action must be taken,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “It is a public safety hazard for illegal radio stations to broadcast, potentially interfering with critical radio communications.”
The Justice Department said it would continue to work with the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau to identify violators of federal communications law. On March 22, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing to discuss legislation that would give the commission greater authority to address pirate radio activity.
“It is great to learn of swift and stern efforts by the commission and Department of Justice to seize equipment of two Boston pirate radio ‘stations,’” said FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly after the announcement was made.
The FCC noted on Wednesday that the Boston, Miami and New York areas are home to the nation’s largest concentration of pirate radio activities. The commission recently released a map showing the scope of alleged illegal operations across the country.