Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) Enforcement Bureau released three Notices of Illegal Pirate Radio Broadcasting to multiple New York City-based property managers for housing an unlicensed radio broadcasting operation. In conjunction with the notices, the FCC issued an Order – without the typical notice and comment procedures – implementing the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act (“PIRATE Act”) and specifying the new elements of this enforcement regime.
Under the “PIRATE Act”, the FCC is able to levy fines of $10,000 a day, up to $2,000,000 total (much higher than previously allowed) on landlords and property managers who ignore or help facilitate pirate radio efforts. Additionally, the FCC will no longer go through the trouble of first issuing a “Notice of Unlicensed Operation,” which is like the police calling a criminal to say they will be there in a couple of hours to investigate a possible crime. Now the FCC will assume a violation and propose the penalty out of the gate. In these cases, however, the FCC is giving the property managers 10 days to respond to the notice with evidence of the station’s removal. One last note for these third parties: don’t think you can play the “sovereign citizen” card to get out of liability; pirate broadcasters have tried something like that before and it doesn’t work.