WASHINGTON — A U.S. Appeals Court has upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s authority to shut down unlicensed broadcasters.
The Eleventh Circuit in Tampa, Fla., affirmed the convictions of Arthur “Lonnie” Kobres, 54, on 14 counts of engaging in unlicensed radio broadcasting. Kobres was convicted in February 1998 after broadcasting radio programming from November 1995 through September 1997, steadily increasing his power until the broadcasts reached 10 miles.
In 1996, his broadcasts interfered with a TV station signal and he received repeated warnings from the FCC that his actions were illegal without an FCC license. His equipment was seized in 1996 and again in 1997, when he was arrested, and he was sentenced to 36 months of probation, six months of home detention and was fined $7,500.
He appealed, arguing that his conviction was invalid because it was based on unenforceable FCC forms and regulations. The Eleventh Circuit dismissed his arguments, saying that the requirement to obtain a license before broadcasting is “found in a statute rather than in a regulation or form.”