In this week’s issue… FCC imposes hefty fine on NYC pirate – Audacy sells transmitter sites – Michael Kay sticks around – FLN, Calvary swap signals – PA AMs find new owner – New format on the border – Remembering NYC’s Vega, Canada’s Walters
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*With a proposed fine of over $2 million against an unlicensed Ecuadorian radio station in Queens, the FCC has begun using a new weapon in its perpetual battle against pirate broadcasters.
Federal marshals seized the station’s equipment in 2016, but that didn’t stop Ayora or his brother Cesar. The FCC says the station returned to the air on 105.5, and it continued to track the station to multiple locations in Queens until the pandemic brought field operations to a halt in 2020. When agents were able to get back into the field in 2022, they again found Impacto 2 operating on 105.5.
Enter the PIRATE Act, the new federal law that increases fines against unlicensed operators to the tune of $20,000 a day. By that standard, the FCC says it could have rung up more than $21 million in fines against the Ayoras – but the statutory maximum penalty in the act is an inflation-adjusted $2,316,034. The Ayoras will have an opportunity to argue for a reduction based on their finances, if they reply this time. (As of Sunday night, Impacto 2’s website, stream and social media remained up and unchanged.)
Collecting fines and actually shutting down pirates remains the big challenge, with or without the PIRATE Act, though the FCC has been making more use of another tool in the legislation as it continues to hand out violation notices not only to station operators but also to the property owners where their antennas are located. One of those went out last week to a property owner in Brockton, Massachusetts, where a 90.7 signal was interfering with Boston’s WBUR on 90.9.
Will the new fines make a difference? It will likely be months before we hear more about the Ayoras’ case – and we’ll be listening on 105.5 to see if the Impacto 2 signal is still on the air when we’re next in Queens.
FEBRUARY IS ALMOST GONE
We are down to our final copies and they won’t be reprinted.
This is the 23rd edition of our popular wall calendar, featuring gorgeous full-color photos of tower and transmitter sites from around the country, and sometimes the world. Our photos capture the sites throughout the day and throughout the year.
This makes a great gift for the tower enthusiast in your life — or a special treat for yourself!
Don’t miss out — order yours today!