Almost daily, it seems, the FCC of late has announced a fine or enforcement action against a radio pirate.
The latest is a notice of apparent liability for a $10,000 fine against a man in Queens, N.Y., for allegedly operating on 95.1 MHz on the FM dial despite previous warnings. The commission believes he operated illegally from five different locations to keep ahead of commission enforcement.
“Commission action in this area is essential because unlicensed radio stations create a danger of interference to licensed communications and undermine the commission’s authority over FM broadcast radio operations,” the FCC statement reads.
The case involves Jose Luis Gerez; the commission says he “has a history of operating an unlicensed station in New York.”
It said he ran an unlicensed station at illegal power from five locations between 2013 and 2016. Following investigations at the first three sites, the FCC’s New York office issued notices of unauthorized operation to the building owners, “which had the effect of inducing Mr. Gerez to remove his equipment and search for a new transmitter site.” During another investigation, an agent issued a field NOUO to Gerez, “which achieved the same result, yet weeks later, an unlicensed station operating on 95.1 MHz began operating from a new location in Queens, New York.”
“Mr. Gerez’s established pattern of relocating his unlicensed FM broadcast station shortly after the building owner received a NOUO from the commission demonstrates an awareness both of the commission’s attempts over the past several years to enforce Section 301 of the Act with respect to his unlicensed broadcast operations on 95.1 MHz, and that his continued operation of the unlicensed broadcast station on 95.1 MHz violates the Act,” it stated.
He has 30 days to pay or appeal.
The commission maintains a web page summarizing its pirate radio enforcement actions over the past 13 years, including notices of apparent liability for forfeiture, notices of unlicensed operation and forfeiture orders. The page does not report how many assessed fines have actually been collected, a sore spot for many broadcasters who believe enforcement actions do not have sufficient teeth. The FCC also has an online form specifically for broadcasters to use if concerned about a specific local signal.