FCC Enforcement in 2002

The Enforcement Action Database is all caught up now. In 2002 there were a total of 45 documented FCC enforcement actions against unlicensed broadcasters. All were operating on the FM band – yes, folks, microradio is alive and well in the post-LPFM world.
While the general statistics appear to show a slight increase in activity over previous years, it is due to the FCC’s increased tenacity with regard to pirate cases – not a heightened interest in finding new pirates to bust. It’s still pretty damn hard to get on the FCC’s radar, but once you’re there you could be in for a bumpy ride. Follow-up activity past the warning letter is almost guaranteed nowadays, whereas a few years ago it was pretty common for a station to get a warning notice then hear nothing else for months, if not longer.
The FCC also got more fine-happy this year, tossing out $10,000 Notices of Apparent Liability (NALs) and actual forfeitures as a matter of practice, especially in Florida (the state that still leads the nation in broadcast activity). However, the rate of collection on these fines is still dismal and at least two broadcasters got their fines significantly reduced or canceled.
Since the overwhelming amount of NALs/forfeitures were issued to Florida broadcasters, I’m inclined to believe that the field offices in that state have decided to use fines as a matter of policy when dealing with pirates. In other states, however, this trend has not yet appeared, so it may not yet be an agency-wide policy.
Over the six years (!) that the Database has been maintained, it’s recorded a cumulative total of 257 enforcement actions. Regrettably, the Big Picture is still pretty small, and news from the most active part of the country is still nearly nonexistent. Soldier on.