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FCC Finalizes $25,000 Forfeiture Order Against Alleged N.J. Operator

Initial complaint about alleged pirate station was filed in 2015

It’s no trick (but neither is it a treat) for a New Jersey man who was handed a $25,000 forfeiture order on October 31 for his alleged long-running operation of a pirate radio station.

The exchanges between Winston Tulloch of Paterson, N.J., and the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau have been long standing — it was back in February 2015 that the commission first received a complaint that that several unauthorized radio stations were operating in Paterson. Agents from the New York field office observed what appeared to be an unauthorized broadcast station operating on 90.9 MHz, and using direction-finding techniques, determined the source of the signal was emanating from a multifamily unit. It was there that agents photographed an FM broadcast antenna located on the roof, the bureau said.

Agents returned three times in 2014 and 2016 — although the station was allegedly moved at least once to a multifamily complex a few streets away. In July 2017, agents issued a formal Notice of Unlicensed Radio Operation to tell Tulloch that any continued operation could lead to additional enforcement action.

[Read: Alleged N.J. Operator Faces $25,000 Penalty]

In September 2017, the FCC said, agents returned to the original location and determined that the station on 90.9 MHz was no longer in operation.

But because the commission determined Tulloch had allegedly “willfully and repeatedly” violated Section 301 of the Communications Act, it proposed a forfeiture of $25,000 in April 2018 — a forfeiture quite a bit higher than the commission’s typical base forfeiture of $10,000 — because Tulloch allegedly continued to allegedly operate an illegal FM broadcast station despite numerous warnings from the bureau. The boost in the forfeiture was “[due to] the repeated and intentional nature of Mr. Tulloch’s apparent violations.”

Tulloch did not file a response to the Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture issued in April, the bureau said, and as a result the bureau formally assessed a forfeiture of $25,000.

“Commission action in this area [of the country] is essential because unlicensed radio stations do not broadcast Emergency Alert Service messages and therefore create a public safety hazard for their listeners,” the Enforcement Bureau said in its order. “Moreover, unlicensed radio stations create a danger of interference to licensed communications and undermine the commission’s authority over broadcast radio operations.”

If payment is not received with 30 days, the case may be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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