First Florida Conviction Railroads Used Car Salesman

It was an unhappy Thanksgiving for Panagiotis Frangiskakis. He runs a used car business in Lake Worth, on land that used to belong to a cab company, which included a small tower. Frangiskakis rented out office and tower space to people who ran two Haitian FM pirate stations from the premises.

Investigations into those stations began in February. In June, the stations were raided and Frangiskakis was charged with unlawful transmission – a state felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Note Frangiskakis did not actually broadcast himself: he was just the landlord. The authorities never figured out who actually ran the stations. Read More

Anti-Pirate Laws Under Fire, Nearing Passage

It’s been nine months since the American Radio Relay League formally requested the FCC void a statute implemented in Florida last year that criminalized unlicensed broadcasting. The agency’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau is supposed to do the deliberation. So far, no word.

The FCC’s in a sticky situation. Pirate radio activity in Florida is off the charts compared to the rest of the country – way, way more than the FCC field offices in Tampa and Miami can handle. So they would prefer to look the other way while state officials clean up the AM and FM dials: the chief of the Tampa office has already said as much. Read More

FCC Enforcement: Initial Follow-Through Improves

The trend in Enforcement Bureau statistics over the last year suggests the agency is doing a better job of following up on pirate radio complaints, but still lacks the ability to actively shut stations down.

This year field agents have become much more consistent about following through with the first few steps of the enforcement protocol. Whereas it used to be months (if not years) between, say, a station visit and a warning letter (or two), field agents are pretty uniformly following up on initial visits with a warning letter within a month or two of first contact. Read More

Test Cases for Florida’s Anti-Pirate Law

Two men were arrested on the last day of June for running unlicensed stations in Broward County, Florida. They’re being charged with felonies under a new state law and face up to five years in prison. A pirate-busting sheriff’s detective seems pleased with his handiwork, but it’s been nearly a year since the law went on the books and this is the first action to speak of. Signal Finder, those pirate-hunters for hire – are not making out like they’d hoped.

A pending petition from the American Radio Relay League to the FCC, which asks the agency to declare the Florida law null and void (by federal preemption) may not be ruled on for several more months. Perhaps the state will rush its prosecution in hopes of beating the FCC to a resolution. The south Florida scene has certainly transcended microbroadcasting, sounding like a little slice of London – if not so much on the air then in the modus operandi.