Miami pirate radio bust is largest ever in U.S.

15 unlicensed stations shut down by FCC

WASHINGTON D.C. — Miami has just set a record, but it’s a rather unenviable one: The city is the site of the FCC’s largest shutdown of unlicensed radio stations ever.

After ignoring warning letters and visits by agency personnel, 15 broadcast stations — mostly dance, techno and rave — operating illegally in Miami, Miami Beach, North Miami, Coconut Grove, Davie, Hialeah and Homestead were shut down in late July by the FCC’s Compliance and Information Bureau in conjunction with other federal agencies including the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and the D.E.A.

High praise

FCC Chairman William Kennard praised the effort, calling it the “most successful, large-scale enforcement action against unlicensed operators to date,” adding that the FCC “will continue vigorously to enforce the law.” That law, Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, calls for monetary penalties of up to $11,000 per violation, seizure of all radio equipment and potential criminal fines of up to $100,000 or imprisonment of up to one year, or both, for first time offenders.

Tech take

Equipment seized included homemade transmitting components and illegally imported professional equipment, including two 2,000 watt transmitters. Such equipment can potentially cause serious interference to licensed communications like aviation and other public safety frequency transmissions.

The FCC has previously estimated that approximately 100-120 radio stations are operating illegally in the U.S., with as many as 50 concentrated in Florida.

(Andrew Paxman in Miami contributed to this report.)

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