The standard FCC fine for commandeering an FM frequency without a license is $10K, but the two latest FCC busts for the offense have resulted in one fine that is double that amount, and another that is even higher. Suggestions: Don’t mess with an airport control tower, and don’t be a repeat offender.
Robens Cheriza is the $20K buccaneer. His station was operating in West Palm Beach on 107.3 MHz, and worse, it was creating a “spurious” signal on 119.1 MHz, which happens the be the frequency used by air traffic controllers at Palm Beach International Airport.
After the FAA complained, FCC agents tracked the 107.3 signal to Cheriza’s residence, and couldn’t help noticing that its transmission mysteriously stopped just moments before they were allowed to inspect the residence. They found everything one needs to run an FM station.
Rubens said he had been operating the station for about a month, and broadcast a live party from his residence which was the specific event that controllers were hearing on 119.1 MHz. He also admitted he was aware that unlicensed broadcasting is illegal.
Because his illegal broadcasts were repeated and especially because he was creating an air travel hazard, his notice of apparently liability was doubled from the standard $10K to $20K.
The story of Fort Lauderdale’s Whisler Fleurinor is perhaps even more amazing. He had been busted for operating on 99.5 MHz and hit with a notice of apparent liability for $20K. He was able to plead poverty and get the fine reduced all the way down to $500.
However, on three separate occasions, 8/10/11, 11/3/11 and 12/7/11, agents tracked a unauthorized 99.5 MHz signal to the site of Fleurino’s previous base of operations.
We suspect he will have a hard time talking down the price of his brand new $25K notice of apparent liability.