FCC Settles with Pirate Radio Stations

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced yesterday settlements with Gerlens Cesar and Acerome Jean Charles, two Boston-area pirate radio station operators. Through two consent decrees that follow the FCC Enforcement Bureau’s investigations, Cesar and Jean Charles will “pay monetary penalties, admit to violations of section 301 of the Communications Act, agree to 20-year compliance commitments, and agree to dispose of any remaining broadcast equipment in their possession.”

The FCC issued Notices of Apparent Liability to the operators last December for their alleged management of Radio Concorde and Radio TeleBoston, two unlicensed radio stations located in the Boston area. Because this conduct violated Section 301 of the Communication Act, the FCC served Jean Charles and Cesar with consent decrees that “provide for a strict compliance plan over a period of 20 years to prevent [them] from ever resuming unlicensed broadcasting.” 

Jean Charles and Cesar will each pay civil penalties of $4,000 and $5,000, respectively, though they could face much worse fines by continuing their illegal broadcasts. They agreed to stop their own pirate broadcasting, to never assist others with similar acts, and “to destroy any broadcast equipment remaining in their possession.” Jean Charles faces a further penalty of “$75,000 if he violates section 301 of the Act or violates the terms of the Consent Decree,” while Cesar could similarly face a further $225,000.

Pirate radio stations are illegal, unlicensed radio broadcasting operations. According to the FCC, they “undermine the Commission’s efforts to manage radio spectrum, and can interfere with licensed communications, including authorized broadcasts and public safety transmissions.”