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FCC Seizes Equipment from Pirate Broadcasters in Boston


The FCC reports that it seized transmission equipment from two pirate radio stations in Boston on March 26. According to court documents, the seizures involved an illegal broadcaster that identified as “Big City” on various FM channels from Dorchester, Massachusetts (with a studio in Roxbury) and pirate “B87.7 FM,” which operated on 87.7 FM from Dorchester. Both unlicensed stations had been issued multiple warnings but continued to operate. Pursuant to federal forfeiture statutes, authorities seized equipment operated by each radio station. The forfeiture actions came in the wake of complaints to the FCC — including one from a licensed broadcaster — about interference, the FCC said.

“When pirate radio stations refuse to cease operations, despite multiple warnings, action must be taken,” US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said. “It is a public safety hazard for illegal radio stations to broadcast, potentially interfering with critical radio communications. We will work in conjunction with the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau to identify violators of federal communications law.”

Over past year, the FCC has significantly ramped up its enforcement activity against unlicensed broadcasters, netting at least two Amateur Radio licensees alleged to be involved in pirate broadcasting.

Enforcement Bureau Chief Rosemary Harold said the FCC has been “pursuing multiple legal routes to stop pirate broadcasters,” and that the seizure action in Boston is just one of them. The Communications Act of 1934 prohibits the operation of radio broadcasting equipment above certain low-intensity thresholds (under FCC Part 15) without an FCC license. The Act authorizes the seizure and forfeiture of any electronic or radio frequency equipment used to broadcast without an FCC license.

The US Marshals Service and Boston Police Department provided assistance with the seizure operations. — FCC News Release



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