FCC Fines El Emperador $10k for Pirate Operations

Mobile direction-finding traces unauthorized transmissions despite station move
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The FCC has issued a $10,000 fine to an alleged pirate radio operator for operation of a station from two locations in northern New Jersey.

In response to a complaint, on Feb. 10 of this year agents from the Enforcement Bureau’s New York Office used mobile direction-finding equipment to locate the source of radio frequency transmissions on 95.9 MHz. The efforts led to an FM antenna mounted on the roof of a single-family residence in Passaic. The agents recorded the station, took field strength measurements of the signal and determined that the transmissions exceeded the limits for operation under Part 15 of the commission’s rules, and therefore required a license.

In March the New York enforcement office sent the property owner, Ramon Suarez, a Notice of Unlicensed Operation informing him that an unlicensed station was operating at a residence owned by him and warned him that continued unlicensed operations could result in additional enforcement action. No response was received, the FCC said, but upon returning to the property agents noted that the FM antenna had been removed from the roof.

Then in July, agents again used mobile direction-finding techniques to identify the source of transmissions at 95.9 MHz to a new, nearby location in Passaic, a multifamily dwelling. Agents again recorded the station and took field strength measurements. They notified the building’s superintendent, Henry Perez Espinoza, that an illegal station was being operated there. Espinoza confirmed that the station operator was Jose Luis Hernandez, who the FCC says refers to himself as “El Emperador.” An Internet search revealed that a radio station calling itself “La Consentida” was purporting to operate on 95.9 MHz in New Jersey and that “La Consentida FM Radio” belongs to Hernandez. The antenna had been removed.

On Oct. 30, Hernandez was fined for operating on 95.9 MHz after being warned that the operation of this station was illegal. The FCC found that Hernandez willfully and repeatedly violated the Communications Act by operating a pirate radio station and handed down a $10,000 fine, the base forfeiture for a violation of this type.

Hernandez has 30 calendar days to pay or offer evidence as to why the penalty should be reduced or cancelled.

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