Texas Pirate Draws $10k Fine

November 10, 2009: The FCC has issued a $10,000 forfeiture order to Raymond Frank for operating a pirate station at 90.1 FM in Austin.

The case dates back to 2007, when agents following up a complaint about an unauthorized station tracked signals to Frank’s home in Austin. After a warning letter, Frank responded that he had ceased broadcasting. But after another complaint in July 2009, signals were once again traced to Frank’s home. The Houston office sent Frank a $10,000 notice of apparent liability.

In his response, Frank didn’t deny making the unauthorized broadcasts, though he said he had stopped broadcasting and had no plans to start again. But he claimed he is a citizen of the Republic of Texas, and, because all his broadcasts took place in Texas, the FCC lacked jurisdiction. He also said FCC license policies violate his First Amendment rights.

The FCC rejected Frank’s first theory, noting that it it has jurisdiction over all U.S. radio transmissions, and said the courts have held that there is no constitutional right to broadcast without a license, and it’s affirmed the forfeiture.

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