Solomon Speaks on Enforcement Issues

Radio World talked with FCC Enforcement Bureau chief David Solomon this month and shutting down unlicensed broadcasters was at the top of the list of things Solomon thinks the FCC could stand to do better. The relevant excerpt below:
Solomon: One area that we continue to give a lot of attention to, and is a high priority, is pirate radio. I do think pirate radio continues to create some real challenges for us. We’re responding to the challenges in the sense that we continue to shut down numerous stations. Every year we probably shut down from 150 to 200 stations through various means. We’ve had a lot of success for one portion of the pirate radio problem – for those people or entities who are not really focused on the fact that there are licensing requirements; they’re small groups or individuals who go on very low powered and basically without a license, but provide some sort of local community service. (W)e go and we warn them; those people generally go off the air. And don’t do it again. But there’s a second aspect of the pirate problem where, it’s a continuing challenge; and that’s with what you might call the professional pirates.
RW: Because they shut down and move, and start up again…
Solomon: Right, and that’s particularly an issue in south Florida where we’ve taken a number of steps and we continue to adjust our strategies to try to be effective. But it’s a challenge, because you have a group, really, of professional pirates down there….We’ve been recently exploring greater use of injunctions, and greater use of criminal actions by the U.S. Attorney to continue to use a series of measures that hopefully will have a strong effect….We have devoted and are continuing to devote resources to it. One of things we’ve done is we have increased the size of the Miami office from two to three (people) and we continue to use staff from the Tampa office as well to work on the pirate problem in Miami and in south Florida generally.
This is a change from the strategy deputy chief Linda Blair briefed FCC Commissioners on in 2002: then the Enforcement Bureau was “focused on taking more forfeiture actions in in appropriate cases, rather than simply issuing warnings.”
It’s also interesting that Solomon notes that stations run by “small groups or individuals who go on very low powered” also “provide some sort of community service.” And, as always, the number of stations actually shut down by the FCC remains a point of contention, with the agency’s estimate being higher than what publicly available data shows.
Good news for shortwave pirates, though: the FCC still appears to be wholly focused on microradio stations, allowing HF activity to continue with impunity.
Later on, while talking about another case involving the revocation of station licenses, Solomon makes another pleasantly honest comment: “You get people who come in a[n]d say, ‘Look, your proposed enforcement action is stupid, the rule is stupid, the FCC is stupid. Congress is stupid.’ And that may or may not be right in various contexts, but it’s not a smart thing to come in and say that.”