BOSTON – Warrants were recently unsealed in U.S. District Court detailing the seizure of radio transmission equipment used by three pirate radio stations: 100.1 FM, broadcasting from Everett, Mattapan, and Brockton, with a studio in Dorchester; Touch 106.1 FM, broadcasting from Boston; and 88.7 FM, broadcasting from Brockton.
It is alleged that all three stations were operating without a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Separate civil actions were brought seeking forfeiture of the equipment because it was allegedly used in violation of federal law.
According to affidavits filed with the court, the FCC issued multiple warnings to the illegal operators at the above addresses, but the radio stations continued to broadcast. The forfeiture actions were brought after complaints were received, including a complaint from a licensed broadcaster about interference with its radio signal.
“As prosecutors we work in conjunction with the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau to identify violators of federal communications law,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “It is a public safety hazard for illegal radio stations to broadcast, potentially interfering with critical radio communications.
“Like any member of the community, the operators of these illegal stations could have applied for free low power radio licenses and operated their stations in compliance with the law. When they choose to operate illegally, and continue those operations after being warned multiple times, action must be taken,” added U.S. Attorney Ortiz.
Since 2011 the U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed eight forfeiture actions against illegal radio stations in the greater Boston area, effectively shutting down all eight stations.
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.
Said Acting FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc, “Like driving a car, radio broadcasting requires a license, permit, or other government authorization. This week’s seizures by FCC agents and U.S. Marshals ensure that everyone who uses the public airwaves follows the same rules.”
Federal officials seized the equipment on April 16 and 17, 2014. Officials seized equipment operated by the radio station using frequency 100.1 MHz at the station’s last known addresses on Walnut Street in Everett, Outlook Road in Mattapan, N. Manchester Street in Brockton, and Gallivan Boulevard in Dorchester. Equipment operated by the radio station using frequency 106.1 MHz was seized at the station’s last known addresses on Cheney Street and Blue Hill Avenue in Boston. Lastly, equipment operated by the radio station using frequency 88.7 MHz was seized at the station’s last known address on Crescent Street in Brockton.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz and Chief LeBlanc made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Wichers of Ortiz’s Civil Division. The seizures were conducted by the United States Marshals Service and the FCC.