FCC Upholds Pirate Fine in a Bronx Case

The Enforcement Bureau has confirmed a fine of $17,000 against a New York man in the case of an illegal station in the Bronx.
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The Enforcement Bureau has confirmed a fine of $17,000 against a New York man in the case of an illegal station in the Bronx.

It penalized Craig Watkins for operating an unlicensed radio transmitter on 106.3 MHz and for refusing an inspection of the station.

The original complaint was made by an engineer for WFAF, also on that frequency and based in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. Three days later a commission agent used a mobile direction-finding vehicle and noted a broadcast on 106.3; the FCC identified the source as an FM broadcasting antenna on a roof on East 229th Street.

After tracking Watkins down through the building owner, agents questioned him about the station. The FCC said he admitted that there was radio equipment in his apartment, but stated that no station existed, and he refused to allow the agents to inspect. They issued him a Notice of Unlicensed Radio Operation. But on two subsequent days, the FCC again heard broadcasts on that frequency from the location.

In his response, Watkins did not deny that there was radio equipment in his apartment or claim that it was there without his permission. He argued that he didn’t know anything about the operation of a station and said he questioned his brother-in-law and the in-law’s friends about the equipment and antenna but was not able to obtain information from them.

“We find that Watkins provided services and facilities incidental to the transmission of communications by radio,” the FCC now has ruled. “We have previously held that liability for unlicensed operation may be assigned to any individual taking part in the operation of the unlicensed station, regardless of who else may be responsible for the operation.” It noted that Watkins also didn’t dispute that he had denied inspectors access.

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