On Tuesday, the FCC proposed the maximum fine allowable by statute — $144,344 — against a pirate radio station in North Miami, Florida. The action marks the first time the Commission has proposed finding the property owners where the transmission equipment was located apparently liable for the operation of the station.
The Commission’s investigation of this matter first began in 2012 when the Enforcement Bureau’s Miami Field Office received a complaint about a potential unauthorized station broadcasting at 90.1 in the North Miami area. After finding that the station was not authorized, Commission agents repeatedly warned both Fabrice Polynice, a programming provider, and Harold and Veronise Sido, who own the property where the station’s transmission equipment is located, that the unauthorized transmission of a radio broadcast is illegal. These earlier actions resulted in a seizure, pursuant to a Federal court order, of transmission equipment from the Sido residence in 2012 and a Forfeiture Order against Mr. Polynice in 2013.
Despite knowing that these actions were illegal, Mr. Polynice apparently continued to operate the pirate station from the Sido residence. In fact, the parties even posted video of themselves in their pirate studio to social media. Commission field agents found on a least seven different occasions that the illegal station was still being operated from the Sido residence by Mr. Polynice. The Bureau’s investigation found that while Mr. Polynice apparently provided programming for the station, the Sidos apparently provided material support in the form of free use of their property, including the shed from which Mr. Polynice broadcast, as well as electricity and Internet connectivity necessary for the operation of the transmitter and antenna.