FCC fines 15-year-old pirate radio station $2 million in New York

An anonymous reader cites a Motherboard report. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is using the new law to fine a New York-based pirate radio station more than $2 million. For 15 years, Impacto 2, operated by two brothers, broadcast Ecuadorian news, culture, sports and talk radio on 105.5 FM in Queens. The feds tried many times to shut it down, but never succeeded. The FCC announced the fine in a press release (PDF) last week. “The commission recommended the maximum allowable penalty of $2,316,034 against brothers Cesar Ayora and Luis Angel Ayora for pirate radio broadcasting in Queens, New York,” the release said. The FCC also said it was trying to seize $80,000 in equipment from a man who ran a pirate radio in Eastern Oregon.

The FCC closely monitors radio spectrum across the country and issues licenses to companies that apply for specific frequencies. On the one hand, this makes sense, because the use of radio frequencies is limited by physics, and without licenses, radio would be free for all. Currently, the FCC is not allocating any new FM or AM radio frequencies, according to its website. Meanwhile, pirate radio has a long history of providing access to the airwaves for independent broadcasters. In this case, the target of the fine is a pair of brothers who provided a vital resource to the community. In court filings regarding the fine, the FCC detailed its history with Ayoras and Impacto 2. […]

According to the FCC, the Ayoras admitted several times during interviews that they operated the radio station. The feds even had a hard time dialing every day that could prove the couple ran the radio station and detailing what they wanted to charge them for it. “Based on the weight of the facts underlying these factors, we propose a maximum fine of $115,80,265 for each of the 184 days that the Ayoras operated their pirate radio station in 2022, for a total fine of $21,307,568,” it said. FCC court. it says in the docs. This, however, is not possible under the new PIRATE Act. “We reduce the proposed penalty from $21,307,568 to $2,316,034 based on the statutory limitations set forth in section 511(a) of the Act,” the court filings said.

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