Nearly five years ago, in December 2012, a resident of North Miami, Fla., was handed a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture of $25,000 for his efforts designed “to evade detection” of an unlicensed radio operation.
Today, the FCC still hasn’t silenced the pirate radio operation serving the area’s sizable Haitian population. A proposed maximum fine nearly six times that 2012 financial penalty seeks to squelch the broadcasting buccaneer once and for all.
The FCC at its September Open Meeting proposed a $144,344 fine — the highest it is authorize to hand out — to Fabrice Polynice and Harold and Veronise Sido.
Polynice is the individual who has been determined to be responsible for a Haitian Creole station operating for several years at 90.1 MHz, audible across much of the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market.
The property owners of locales where Polynice operated his pirate radio stations — the Sidos — are also tied to the NAL, and the FCC says this marks the first time the Commission has proposed finding the property owners where the transmission equipment was located apparently liable for the operation of the station.
As reported by RBR+TVBR Polynice was operating an unlicensed operation at 90.1 MHz from three separate locations, “presumably to evade detection,” as the FCC put it.
Agents from the Enforcement Bureau’s Miami Field Office repeatedly warned both Polynice, a programming provider, and the Sidos, who own the property where the station’s transmission equipment is located, that the unauthorized transmission of a radio broadcast is illegal.
These earlier actions resulted in a seizure, pursuant to a Federal court order, of transmission equipment from the Sido residence in 2012 and a Forfeiture Order against Polynice in 2013; he also continued to broadcast after one of his three station locations was shut down by federal marshals, proving that Polynice was aware of the illegal nature of his activities.
To the chagrin of the Commission, the parties even posted video of themselves in their pirate studio to social media.
Miami field agents found on a least seven different occasions that the illegal station was still being operated from the Sido residence, by Polynice.
Furthermore, the Enforcement Bureau’s Miami team discovered that the Sidos were accomplices, providing material support in the form of free use of their property—including the shed from which Polynice’s broadcasts originated, electricity from FPL, and internet connectivity necessary for operation of the transmitter and antenna.
“The NAL finds that the actions of all three individuals were continuous and deliberate,” the FCC declared in a statement released Tuesday.
Polynice and Mr. and Mrs. Sido have 30 days to respond.
The Commission will then review the response and any additional evidence, and may then proceed to issue a final forfeiture order.
In a statement, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he’s made it loud and clear since ascending to his leadership role at the Commission that the FCC won’t tolerate the unauthorized and illegal use of the radio spectrum. “Towards that end, I’ve made it a Commission priority to crack down on pirate radio operations,” he said. “With today’s action, we again back up these words with action.”
Pai continued, “This conduct is unacceptable. With this action, we send a clear message to all pirate operators far and wide that we will use the strongest enforcement tools within our disposal to end this illegal practice.”
He thanked Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly for consistently advocating for the Commission to do more to combat pirate radio operations, in addition to the staff of the Enforcement Bureau, including Charles Cooper, Jennifer Epperson, Rosemary Harold, Jeremy Marcus, Janet Moran, Phil Rosario, and Steven Spaeth.