Pirate enforcement announcements continue to emerge from the Federal Communications Commission.
The latest is a $15,000 proposed fine for an operator in North Miami, Fla. Vilnord Simon was already on the commission radar; back in 2008 he was found to be operating illegally at 103.1 MHz and given a written warning to cease immediately or be subject to further action.
According to the commission, Simon seemed to comply; it looked like the transmitting antenna — installed at a multistory building where he was a tenant — had been removed. But in January and August of 2015, in response to complaints, agents from the Enforcement Bureau’s Miami office tracked transmissions on 103.1 and said they were coming a multi-unit residential building. The FCC reported another incident in April 2016. In all three cases, agents found that transmissions exceeded limits for operation under Part 15. Simon was identified as the tenant where the antenna was located; the bureau said it also found information online connecting Simon to the signals.
FCC rules set a base forfeiture of $10,000 but the commission has discretion and raised the penalty because it had issued a written warning earlier and because of the alleged multiple infractions.
Simon has 30 days to pay or seek reduction or cancellation of the fine. Whether the fine will be collected is a separate question; observers of FCC enforcement often point out that anecdotal evidence suggests many pirate fines are not collected.
As we reported earlier, another Florida man faces a $15K fine in a similar case. Florida, New York and New Jersey are among the states hit hardest by illegal unlicensed signals; broadcasters in those areas have been vocal in seeking more FCC enforcement activity.