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FCC Battles Pirate Radio in Florida

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 04, 2018 6:00 AM

Remember when Capt. Jack Sparrow gets eaten by the Kraken?

That's what happened -- more or less -- to a pirate radio station in Miami. A couple was broadcasting Haitian music from their backyard, when the Federal Communications Commission seized their equipment to shut them down.

Speaking of pirates; the government also fined the operators $144,344. But just like the movie, they emerged again.

Strange Signals

According to reports, Harold and Veronis Sido had an antenna and other equipment set up in a backyard shed. At the same time, "DJ Paz" hosted a pirate radio program called "Radio Touche Douce."

The FCC detected the signal originated from the Sidos' residence, although it disappeared during an inspection. Agents did find the equipment and seized it, but the program was soon back on the air.

"This was certainly suspicious," reported Ars Technica. "So FCC agents did a bit of snooping in a Super-Top Secret Government Research Database called 'Facebook.'"

The tech site poked fun at the agency for a comedy of errors, including its inability to solve the disappearance and reappearance of the signal. The agents discovered photos of the Sidos and DJ Paz on Facebook, however, and concluded they were all part of a conspiracy.

Not Funny

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who announced the fine against the pirate broadcasters, was not amused.

"There's nothing funny about pirate radio, which interferes with the lawful use of the airwaves and can disrupt public safety communications," he said.

On the other hand, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn understood the pirates' dilemma. She said there are 213,000 foreign-born Haitians living in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area, but no one can get a license to broadcast their music.

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