FCC proposes ‘highest fine ever’ on two Boston pirate radio operators

The station are accused of unlicensed and unlawful broadcasting

The Federal Communications Commission proposed hefty fines Thursday on two separate Boston-area pirate radio operators for allegedly broadcasting without a license.

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“Both operators ignored repeated warnings and continued to broadcast and interfere with licensed radio stations for years,” Ajit Pai, chairman of the agency, said in a video statement posted on YouTube. “This should serve as a yet another warning that we will not stand by as the law is being broken.”

The first fine was levied on Gerlens Cesar, who operates Radio TeleBoston, for apparent unlicensed and unlawful broadcasting. It was $453,015, according to the FCC.

Cesar used three separate broadcasting transmitters, which resulted in three separate violations of the law, according to the memo. In response, the FCC proposed imposing the statutory maximum forfeiture amount for each violation, which was the “largest fine ever proposed by the FCC against a pirate radio operation,” according to the agency.

Radio TeleBoston simulcasts on three unauthorized transmitters on two different frequencies, the FCC said. That could cause interference on Boston FM dials and interfere with licensed communications and public safety announcements.

The Communications Act prohibits certain broadcasts without a license from the FCC.

“It is the FCC’s job to manage America’s spectrum,” Pai said. “Every radio broadcast above a certain low-power level needs an FCC license but, by definition, [pirating] is unlicensed and unlawful.

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The agency, in the note, said it received multiple complaints from Boston residents of an illegal station operating in the area. The FCC Enforcement Bureau was able to locate the transmitters in question and link them back to Radio TeleBoston. The agency then issued several written notices to Cesar to stop transmission, to which he did not comply, it said.

“Many pirate radio broadcasts have cropped up that can, and do, interfere with licensed radio signals and other services,” he continued. “This is why we’ve taken major enforcement against pirate radio operators, especially in and around cities,” like in Boston.

The second fine of $151,005 was given to  Acerome Jean Charles, the operator of Radio Concorde, for his alleged unlicensed broadcasts.

The FCC said it received a complaint from a local licensed broadcaster, which they traced back to Radio Concorde and issued several unanswered warnings to stop transmission.

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Neither station immediately replied to requests for comment from FOX Business but both will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations before any fine is enforced.

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