High profile Fort Myers pirate gets a reduced penalty


Broadcasting PirateAl Knighten made unauthorized use of 107.5 MHz to serve his portion of the Fort Myers area, and became somewhat of a national cause when the FCC caught up to him. The FCC found reason to increase Knighten’s fine above the standard for the infraction, but now it’s gone even farther in the other direction.

Dunbar was the operator of Dunbar Community Radio Service to fulfill what he saw as a need going unmet by broadcasters in the area.

The FCC caught up with him in December 2011. Knighten admitted that he was operating without a license and that he knew he was breaking the rules.

At the time, the FCC explained its actions, saying “The record evidence in this case shows that Mr. Knighten wanted to obtain a license for his station and made public statements to that effect and, therefore, knew that his station was operating on an unlicensed basis. In spite of this knowledge, Mr. Knighten operated and publicly promoted the unlicensed station for over a month, in deliberate disregard for the Act and the Commission’s requirements. Thus, we find that an additional upward adjustment of $5,000 in the forfeiture amount is warranted.”

Knighten has since had the opportunity to appeal the FCC action. He admits his guilt, but provided the necessary documentation to demonstrate his inability to pay the full $15K. The FCC agreed and has reduced his penalty to $1.2K.

However, the FCC cautioned Knighten that it was fully within the Commission’s power to stick him with a much higher financial penalty whether or not it would be easy for him to pay, and said that is in fact what he will be risking if he decides to operate another pirate station.