Travis LeBlanc

New FCC Enforcement Bureau chief Travis LeBlanc is known as a tough cookie, a hard-nosed prosecutor who has brought big cases against large corporations. One area where he plans to flex his muscle is on eradicating pirate radio, believing that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The problem with pirate radio enforcement right now, according to LeBlanc, is it has become a “wack-a-mole” scenario. Shut them down here and they pop up over there. Case in point: LeBlanc’s office last week issued a $20,000 fine against a New York pirate who, over the last three years, received several notices of unauthorized operation. Yet he kept showing up somewhere else.

“I’m looking at the effectiveness of our enforcement,” LeBlanc told broadcasters at the NAB Show. He said he intends to go beyond traditional enforcement means like Notices of Apparent Liability, forfeitures, citations and seizures. “Having a regime that solely relies on that will not ultimately be as effective,” LeBlanc said. “I am thinking about how we can prevent pirates from getting on the air.”

LeBlanc believes the Bureau needs to implement the type of policy that is decisive and effective. He told broadcasters that he’s in discussions with the National Association of Broadcasters, his own bureau and the chiefs of other bureaus about policy options “that remove the incentives for pirates to go on air.” He said he plans to work with broadcasters on the issue. “We want to get to a world where there are no pirates on the airwaves,” LeBlanc said.