This Garden State Pirate Just Got Punished


The FCC on Thursday handed down one of the biggest Forfeiture Notices for unlicensed radio activity ever issued by the Commission.

Thank David Dombrowski, Regional Director for Region One of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, for the stiff proposed penalty.

RBR + TVBR OBSERVATION: Yes! You go, Mr. Dombrowski! We love seeing the FCC take some tough action against these pirates and getting more aggressive than ever. We still have tons of broadcasting buccaneers down in South Florida, and they continue to sprout like weeds. Tougher enforcement may finally put a dent in their illicit activities.

Conroy Dawson is the recipient of a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture in which the FCC proposes a $25,000 slap for the continued operation of an unlicensed radio station at 97.5 MHz in Paterson, N.J.

This frequency is reserved for translator W248CG, which rebroadcasts Pillar of Fire’s religious WAWZ-FM 99.1 in the New Jersey suburbs of the Greater New York Tri-State area.

The stiff penalty came after previous warnings from the Commission that the operation of an unlicensed station was illegal, and that continued operation could result in further enforcement action.

It is Dawson’s “deliberate disregard” of the Commission’s warning that warrants a significant penalty, the commission said.

Furthermore, Dombrowski notes that “Commission action in this area is essential because unlicensed radio station create a danger of interference to licensed communications and undermine the Commission’s authority over FM broadcast radio operations.”

The FCC first started investigating unlicensed broadcasts at 97.5 MHz in October 2015. After Dawson removed the unlicensed FM broadcast station’s equipment from the first site used for the pirate station, agents from the New York field office determined that he repeatedly operated his unlicensed station from three additional locations in Paterson, during three subsequent visits to investigate.

It is now up to Dawson to decide whether to continue ignoring the FCC, to fight them, or to pay up.

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Adam R Jacobson is a veteran radio industry journalist and advertising industry analyst with general, multicultural and Hispanic market expertise. From 1996 to 2006 he served as an editor at Radio & Records.