A spectrum buccaneer operating in Miami airwaves and another operating in Puerto Rico have each been hit with $15K fines by the FCC for using the FM band without a license. The Miami operation, known as “88.7 Da Blaze FM,” has been ordered to pay the full amount, while the PR pirate was able to get a discount.
FCC agents acting on a complaint 9/29/11 discovered two antennae on a rooftop that they said were typical of the kind used by unlicensed FM stations, and the tenant of the building’s rooftop suite was called “Blaze.”
Jeffrey Darius was listed as the CEO of Blaze. He was warned off the air, but a signal continued to show up on the frequency, and even listed a phone contact on air – which the FCC discovered matched that used by Darius.
He eventually admitted he and a partner were running the station, and that he was also a DJ for it. The standard fine for such an operation is $10K, but the FCC increased it due to the repetition of the violation, and particularly because Darius continued to broadcast after having received a warning.
The Puerto Rico pirate, Eleuterio Lebron, was operating one click down the dial at 88.5 MHz out of Guayama PR. He was hit with a $15K NAL back on 9/21/11.
He told the FCC the fine should be reduced or cancelled because he did not intend to break the law and indeed was unaware that he was breaking the law. He was simply “seeking the spiritual welfare and edification of my hometown habitants.” He also said he was unable to pay $15K.
The FCC found his argument that he was unaware of the violation “unpersuasive” since they had explained to Lebron that he was operating outside the law. However, his financial situation was persuasive, and as a result his liability was reduced to $1.5K.