Iowa Man Faces Pirate Radio Fine
Thomas Costa faces a $10,000 fine for operating an FM signal
illegally in Iowa City, Iowa. The FCC has issued a
notice of apparent liability saying he ran a transmitter on 87.9 MHz.
Signals in excess of 100 μV/m field
strength at three meters are not allowed in that spectrum. Agents from the commission’s Kansas
City office checked out a complaint last month and traced the signal to an
antenna on a residence. Accompanied by the property owner they found a non-certified FM transmitter in a locked basement room, fed with automated audio from a computer.The owner said Costa rented the
The FCC then interviewed Costa, who told
them that he did indeed rent the room and install the radio equipment;
but he denied operating the unlicensed station. He said several unnamed
individuals owned the gear and gave him rent money, which he gave to the
property owner in turn as rent.
“Mr. Costa asserted that
the alleged operators of the station did not provide him with their names or
contact information in order to protect him and them from the commission,”
according to the NAL. “Mr. Costa also stated that he was told by the unnamed
operators that he could expect the commission to inspect the station at some
point and order him to cease operations.”
In its notice, the FCC
staff found that under federal law, Costa
can be said to have operated the station because he exercised control over its general
conduct or management despite his claim that unnamed individuals were the ones running it.
The commission also was not convinced by
the story about other people being involved. “We find it implausible that Mr.
Costa (or anyone for that matter) would install radio equipment, rent space,
allow for unlawful operations in the rented space, and incur potential
financial and other liability on behalf of complete strangers.”