Austin Radio ‘Pirates’ Face Stiff Fine From FCC
There’s an old Country song titled, “You Gotta Have a License.” This is true for any commercial (or non-commercial) radio station in the U.S. Well, a couple in Austin felt that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules regarding licensing for the FM broadcast band didn’t apply to them, so they put a “pirate” radio station on the air. That is now going to cost them a substantial amount of money.
As reported by the FCC and the Amateur Radio Newsline:
This story goes back to August 12, 2013 when an agent from the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau’s Houston Office used direction-finding to locate the source of a radio signal on 90.1 MHz to an antenna atop a tower mounted to the side of an apartment building in the city of Austin. Ownership of both the building and tower were traced to Walter Olenick and M. Rae Nadler-Olenick at that address.
On September 6, 2013, the Houston Office issued Mr. and Mrs. Olenick a warning letter, which advised them that the operation of an unlicensed radio station from their property violated the Communications Act.
In their reply, the Olenick’s did not deny that they owned the apartment building and operated the unlicensed radio station from it. Rather they stated that the FCC agent did not have permission or consent to enter the premises.
They also stated that because they had no commercial nexus with the Commission, they did not consent, directly or by any implication, to the Commission’s policies, procedures, or jurisdiction. They also implied that they do not consider themselves subject to the laws of the United States and stated they expect any future communications to come from the International Bureau only after a treaty to which they are “signators” is signed.
But in its findings the FCC noted that it has every right to observe from common grounds and that it also had the authority to regulate radio transmissions within the state of Texas. With that it gave the Olnicks the customary 30 days from the February 19th issuance of the proposed $15,000 fine to pay or to file an appeal.
This past June 3rd the FCC affirmed the previously issued Notice of Apparent Liability. In doing so the FCC said that Section 301 of the Communications Act explicitly sets forth the Commission’s jurisdiction over all radio transmissions, both interstate and intrastate. At that time the Olenick’s were again given the 30 days from the release of the order affirming the fine to pay it or to file any form of appeal which they apparently did. On August 19th in a Memorandum, Opinion and Order the FCC denied the Olenick’s Petition for Reconsideration.
That just goes to show ya…”You gotta have a license!”