BOSTON – A warrant recently unsealed in U.S. District Court details the seizure of radio transmission equipment of a pirate radio station broadcasting from Brockton.
The seizure, by federal officials on March 1, 2013, occurred at the station’s last known address on Rutland Street in Brockton. The pirate radio station is alleged to have been using frequency 91.7 MHz without a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). A civil action was brought seeking forfeiture of the equipment because it was allegedly used in violation of federal law.
According to an affidavit filed with the civil complaint, the unlicensed FM radio station was causing interference to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) frequency 120.6 MHz, which is one of the primary frequencies used by pilots to communicate with FAA controllers when flying in the Boston metropolitan area. The FCC issued verbal and written warnings to the residents of 9 Rutland Street on several occasions, but the radio station continued to broadcast.
The Communications Act of 1934 prohibits the operation of radio broadcasting equipment above certain low-intensity thresholds without a license issued by the FCC. The Act authorizes the seizure and forfeiture of any electronic or radio frequency equipment used to broadcast without an FCC license. The number of available radio frequencies is limited, and unlicensed broadcasting can interfere with the broadcasting of legitimate licensed radio stations, potentially causing chaos in the radio spectrum.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will work in conjunction with the FCC to identify and seize equipment from pirate broadcasters,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “It is hazardous to public safety for pirate radio stations to broadcast illegally, potentially interfering with critical radio communications.”
“The FCC remains vigilant about keeping the airwaves free of interference so consumers retain unobstructed access to over-the-air programs and information,” said Michele Ellison, Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. “We will continue, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to seize equipment from pirate broadcasters who potentially endanger public safety and cause interference to the programming of licensed broadcasters. This enforcement action reflects our continued commitment to that important objective.”
U.S. Attorney Ortiz and Chief Ellison made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Wichers of Ortiz’s Civil Division.