Three alleged radio pirates find themselves in similar pots of hot water with the Federal Communications Commission, accused of operating separate stations in New Jersey.
Another thing the three have in common: although they were repeatedly warned in writing that their operations were illegal, they did not respond and as result their actions “warranted a significant penalty,” the commission said.
Populous northern New Jersey is an attractive area for illegal operators. Broadcasters and lawmakers in the greater New York City area have been among those actively pressing the commission for more enforcement activity.
The smallest penalty of the three, $10,000, was issued to Jose Luis Hernandez of Passaic, N.J., operating an unlicensed radio transmitter on 95.9 MHz in that city. Enforcement agents twice used mobile direction-finding to pinpoint the source, first at a residence and then at a multifamily residential building. After the FCC notified the buildings’ owners, the antennas were removed. The commission found that Hernandez apparently willfully and repeatedly violated the Communications Act and FCC rules with his actions.
Two larger fines — for $15,000 each — were handed out for another alleged pirate operation in Passaic as well as one in nearby Paterson.
The Enforcement Bureau fined Ivan Angeles of Passaic for operating an illegal transmitter on 91.9 MHz. About 15 miles away in Paterson, Alejandro Ramirez of Paterson was fined for operating at 90.5.
The commission said Angeles has a history on the FM dial in New Jersey. In 2012 and 2013, he was issued four Notices of Unlicensed Operation for signals on 91.9 MHz from various locations around Passaic. The commission found Ramirez had a similar pattern.Ramirez and his wife were issued two Notices of Unlicensed Operation in 2013 and 2014 for operating on 90.5 MHz from various locations. Unauthorized operations linked to Ramirez were noted in May and August of 2015, the FCC stated.
In all three cases, the base fine for violating the Communications Act is $16,000 for each day of a continuing violation and $10,000 for violating the FCC rules, though the commission has discretion to depart from these guidelines. And in all three, the individual was issued warnings and failed to respond to the subsequent NAL, the FCC said. This demonstrates disregard for the commission’s authority and its rules, and thus “warranted a significant penalty.”
Each of the individuals is supposed to respond or pay within 30 days.