A month ago the FCC issued a $10,000 Forfeiture Order to Pirate Cat Radio founder Daniel “Monkey Man” Roberts, for “willfully and repeatedly violating section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934…by operating an unlicensed radio broadcast station” in San Francisco.
Today, Roberts’ attorney Michael Couzens filed a Petition for Reconsideration with the FCC, claiming that there is no proof that Roberts was involved with illegal broadcasts. According to Couzens’ letter:
“Daniel K. Roberts is subject of a $10,000 Forfeiture Order issued on October 21, 2011. At the time of the alleged violation, he operated Pirate Cat Radio, a cafe, studio, and internet stream located at 2781 21st Street in San Francisco. In 2009 FCC Agents detected unlicensed transmissions, not at that location, but at 841 Corbett Avenue, San Francisco. The Order contains no factual evidence that Roberts participated in the establishing, facilitating or operating equipment for the tramisssions [sic] at Corbett in any way. His involvement is merely assumed, based on statements or activities of Roberts and Pirate Cat Radio and the generous use by the government of broad inferences. The Order makes it a violation that the stream was broadcast, without any evidence as to who broadcast it.”
The Petition goes on to argue that there is no proof that Roberts was responsible for the terrestrial broadcasts emanating from 841 Corbett Avenue and that there is no evidence “linking the actual location of the unlawful transmission with” Roberts. Roberts claims to have been simply operating an Internet radio station. Although the Petition does not deny that someone was broadcasting the station illegally over the terrestrial airwaves, it states that the FCC has presented no evidence that that someone was Roberts:
“In the present case it is clear that someone was violating Section 301 when transmitting at 841 Corbett Avenue. It should be equally clear that Roberts was not violating Section 301, merely because at the same time he was operating the board at an internet radio service, speaking into the microphone, and serving bacon lattes. The Order shows no evidence and makes no claim that the transmissions were deliberately relayed point-to-point or affirmatively controlled from the Pirate Cat Radio studio.”
Roberts’ attorney concludes his Petition for Reconsideration by stating his concern that the forfeiture order “depicts a new standard of Section 301 enforcement that is vague, amorphous, incomprehensible, over reaching, and Unconstitutional. The Government should reconsider this Order and on reconsideration should vacate the penalty.”
Pirate Cat Radio is no longer broadcasting in any form, but former Pirate Cat Radio volunteers (without Roberts) are now running the online-only Mutiny Radio from the former Pirate Cat Radio Cafe.