In what may be a first in the effort to crack down on unlicensed broadcasters, the United States has filed a civil action to stop a church-related pirate radio station from operating in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts US Attorney’s Office is seeking an injunction to shut down the station, operating on 97.1 MHz.
“This groundbreaking step, for an injunction to stop a pirate radio operator’s illegal activities, is part of our continued efforts to combat illegal broadcasting,” FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Rosemary Harold said this week. “As we work with our law enforcement colleagues to use every tool in our toolbox to combat pirate radio, I welcome the Justice Department’s renewed use of its Section 401(a) injunction authority. Along with fines, equipment seizures, and warnings, this action underlines our continued interest in combatting this serious problem.”
The FCC already has fined operator Vasco Oburoni and Christian Praise International Church $15,000 for repeated violations of its rules against unlicensed operation. The complaint recounts that Oburoni and the church first began operating an unlicensed station in Worcester on 102.3 MHz. After issuing multiple warnings, the FCC levied the $15,000 penalty, and Oburoni agreed to a payment plan. But later, he began broadcasting again, this time on 97.1 MHz. At least one licensed broadcaster has complained to the FCC, citing interference concerns.