FCC & Others Raid Two Longtime Boston Pirates

FCC Juan Alberto Ayala Translator AbuseThe FCC and other government agencies conducted a raid on Monday shutting down two long operating pirates in the Boston area.

B87.7” dates back to 2008 when it first launched on 97.1 as “Hot 97” trying to continue the legacy of Radio One’s defunct 97.7 WBOT. The other station, “Big City” operated at different times on 100.3, 105.3, and most recently on 101.3 where it interfered with Bob Bittner Broadcasting’s W267CE Cambridge. Both pirates transmitted from an abandoned theater on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester with Big City also having studios in Roxbury MA.

The seizure of the transmission equipment was carried out by the FCC which had issued multiple warnings and fines to the stations, US Marshalls, and the Boston Police Department.

Radio transmission equipment from two radio stations that were operating illegally in Boston was seized on Monday, March, 26th.

According to court documents unsealed today, “Big City,” which broadcasted at times on 100.3 FM, 105.3 FM, and 101.3 FM, from Dorchester, with a studio in Roxbury, and “B87.7 FM,” which operated on 87.7 FM from Dorchester, were operating without a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC issued multiple warnings to the illegal operators, but the radio stations continued to broadcast. Pursuant to federal forfeiture actions, authorities seized equipment operated by each radio station at that station’s antenna location on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester. The forfeiture actions were brought after the FCC received complaints, including a complaint from a licensed broadcaster about interference with its radio signal.

“When pirate radio stations refuse to cease operations, despite multiple warnings, action must be taken,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “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.”

“Pirate radio stations are operating without an FCC license – and therefore breaking the law, as well as interfering with licensed broadcasters and potentially preventing those broadcasters from delivering critical public-safety information to listeners,” said Rosemary Harold, Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. “We are pursuing multiple legal routes to stop pirate broadcasters; the seizure action in Boston is just one of them. We thank our partners in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Marshals Service, and we’re particularly thankful for the great work of FCC Field agents in combatting this problem.”

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.

U.S. Attorney Lelling and FCC Enforcement Chief Harold made the announcement today. The U.S. Marshals Service and Boston Police Department provided assistance with the seizure operations. Assistant U.S. Attorney David G. Lazarus, Chief of Lelling’s Asset Forfeiture Unit, is handling the matter.

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