The standard fine for operating in the FM band without a license if $10K, but the spectrum buccaneer collared 6/25/13 by FCC agents was an experienced broadcaster and well aware of the rules – and for that his penalty was quite a bit stiffer.
Juan R. Nieves Jr. was operating on 97.7 MHz in Summerfield FL, a community to the south of Ocala in central Florida. While it is not unusual in the least to hear about FM banditry in Florida, usually it takes place in the Miami area. It is far less common to find a pirate nabbed in a smaller interior market.
FCC agents traced the 97.7 MHz signal to the residence Nieves was renting on three separate occasions, and confronted him 6/25/13. According to the FCC, “He admitted renting the residence housing the station, owning the transmitter, and being the sole responsible party for the unlicensed station. He claimed to have operated the station on 97.7 MHz for over a year. Mr. Nieves also stated that he had been in the broadcast industry for many years, was a former officer of a low power station in Summerfield, Florida, and knew he needed a license to operate.”
The LPFM in question is said to be WJRN-LP Summerfield FL.
In deciding to take the standard fine up a few notches, the FCC explained, “The record evidence in this case shows that Mr. Nieves was an officer of a low power FM station, and as such was familiar with the Commission’s requirements. Mr. Nieves admitted that he had been in the broadcast industry for many years and knew that he was operating the radio station without a license. Nevertheless, Mr. Nieves operated the unlicensed station for over a year, in deliberate disregard for the Act and the Commission’s requirements. Thus, we find that an upward adjustment of $5,000 in the forfeiture amount is warranted.”
So the NAL is upped to $15K in this case.