Communications towers that are not lit as required often bring big fines from the FCC. In two decisions released today, the Commission followed that precedent. In one case, the FCC proposed a fine of $17,000 to a tower owner after repeated promises to fix lights that were out did not result in any resolution of the issue after 2 years (problems which, according to the FCC decision, were first brought to the tower owner’s attention by the FCC). The FCC’s order also said that the tower owner stated that its protocol was to examine the status of the tower lights quarterly, even though the FCC’s rules (Section 17.47(a)) require that there be a direct visual check, or a check of an authorized monitoring system, every 24 hours. The owner was also required to report to the FCC, within 30 days, stating that that the required lights were back on or with a specific timetable for doing so.
In a second case, the FCC proposed a fine to the same company for $15,000 for perceived issues at another tower, and indicated that they thought that there might be a systematic problem with the company’s practices – ordering the company to report to the FCC on the compliance status of all of its towers. These decisions are indicative of how seriously the FCC considers its tower lighting and monitoring rules, given their potential impact on public safety. So remember to check your tower lights daily, report outages to the FAA when they occur, and promptly fix any problems that may exist.