FCC Enforcement in 2003

Looking over the cases collected in the Enforcement Action Database for last year, there are a couple of interesting (yet very basic) conclusions to be found.
1) While the number of overall enforcement actions tops 2002’s figures, this is due to hits on single stations multiple times. If anything, it signifies an efficiency improvement within the FCC’s enforcement process. The strange thing is, this new-found tenaciousness doesn’t seem to be nationwide, more like case-dependent…but there just isn’t enough info to say for sure.
2) In late 2002, when Enforcement Bureau officials made their last “progress report,” they mentioned that they planned to rely more heavily on monetary forfeitures to get business done in 2003. They don’t seem to be kidding in that regard…although it’s been a few years since anyone has actually analyzed the success the FCC has on collecting its fines, which (at least as far as 2000 was concerned) is not very good, to put it mildly. When the FCC did successfully conclude a rare civil collections suit against a pirate last year (for a case first opened in 2000), they trumpeted it from on high – an exception to the rule.
3) The other interesting remark made by EB officials in late 2002 was that they planned to dispense with warning notices to egregious violators of FCC rules, and just proceed straight to issuing fines. This doesn’t seem to have happened.
4) Location-wise, the same hot-spots are still active, the most notable (again) being Florida, California and New York. West Virginia made the Database for the first time in 2003 with its first confirmed enforcement action against an unlicensed broadcaster. Overall, the Database contains reports from 37 states now.
That’s about it analysis-wise, but the main point is not to believe the hype when the FCC Enforcement Bureau claims (in its next “progress report,” expected in a few months) the closure of hundreds of stations. No, microradio is definitely alive and well, and although the agency may be tweaking tactics to deal with it, they are no closer to stopping unlicensed broadcasting than they were before the days of LPFM.