Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Category Archives: FCC Fines

Subscribe to FCC Fines RSS Feed

What’s Up for Broadcasters in Washington Under the New Administration – A Look Ahead at TV and Radio FCC Issues for the Rest of 2017

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Indecency, Multiple Ownership Rules, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Television
A new President and a new Chair of the FCC have already demonstrated that change is in the air in Washington. Already we’ve seen Chairman Pai lead the FCC to abolish the requirement that broadcasters maintain letters from the public about station operations in their public file (which will take effect once the Paperwork Reduction… Continue Reading

FCC Releases First EEO Audit for 2017 – Over 200 Radio and Almost 80 TV Stations Named in the Audit Notice

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines, FM Radio, Television
In the swirl of news about the deregulatory efforts of the new FCC, one could almost forget that there are still many regulations in place that require significant amounts of paperwork retention by broadcasters. That point was hammered home yesterday, when the FCC released its first EEO audit letter of 2017 for radio and TV… Continue Reading

FCC Sets Hearing to Determine if Station License Renewal Should Be Denied For Conducting Unsafe Contest

Posted in FCC Fines, General FCC, License Renewal
Last week, we wrote an article which received much attention, addressing the legal issues that could come up if contests are not conducted properly. One issue that we did not anticipate was reflected in an FCC order released yesterday, designating for hearing the license renewal of the Entercom Sacramento radio station that was involved in… Continue Reading

What Could Possibly Go Wrong With a Broadcast Contest? – From the Legal Side

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
Earlier this week, our friends at the broadcast and digital media consulting and research firm Jacobs Media posted an article on their blog called “What Could Possibly Go Wrong,” dealing with the financial and reputational issues that can arise if a contest is not fully thought out. That article reminded me of all of the… Continue Reading

Long Periods of Silence Can Jeopardize a Station’s License – $5000 Fine and Short-Term Renewal Given to a Station that had Been Silent for Extended Periods

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, License Renewal, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
In a decision released last week, the FCC made clear that stations that have long periods in which they are not operated (perhaps being put back into operation for a day or two every year to avoid the automatic cancellation of their licenses) are not operating in the public interest, and are putting their license… Continue Reading

August Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – New Fees, EAS Registration Requirement, EEO Obligations and More

Posted in Broadcast Auctions, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Emergency Communications, FCC Fees, FCC Fines, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report
As we enter the last full month of summer, when many are already looking forward to the return to the more normal routines of autumn, regulatory obligations for broadcasters don’t end. Even if you are trying to squeeze in that last-minute vacation before school begins or other Fall commitments arise, there are filing deadlines this… Continue Reading

$11,000 FCC EEO Fine for Recruiting Solely Through Online Sources – Time to Revisit the FCC Rules?

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines
An FCC decision fining a cable company $11,000 for not adequately recruiting for job openings should be viewed as a warning to broadcasters as well as well as MVPDs – failure to recruit for job openings by disseminating information about those opening through diverse sources will likely result in a substantial fine under the current… Continue Reading

$700,000 to Be Paid By Media General to End Inquiry on its Attempts to Enforce a JSA – What are the Limits on the Enforceability of a Contractual Restriction on an FCC Licensee’s Sale of its Station?

Posted in Assignments and Transfers, FCC Fines, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Multiple Ownership Rules, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The FCC yesterday announced a consent decree with Media General by which Media General agreed to pay a $700,000 “settlement payment” to the US Treasury to settle the investigation of its attempts to enforce the provisions of a Joint Sales Agreement with Schurz Communications.  Media General had tried to enforce the JSA when Schurz tried to… Continue Reading

July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – FM Translators for Class A and B AMs; Quarterly Issue Programs and Children’s Television Reports; Comments on EAS, Letters from the Public and Regulatory Fees, Cable Royalty Claims; and More

Posted in Cable Carriage, Children's Programming and Advertising, Emergency Communications, FCC Fees, FCC Fines, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
While TV broadcasters can enjoy an incentive auction respite in July as attention shifts to the “forward auction” where we will see whether wireless carriers come up with enough money to fund the $86,422,558,704 (plus $1.75 billion for repacking costs, plus auction-related administrative costs) needed for the buyout of TV stations who agreed to surrender… Continue Reading

Quick Reminder – New FCC Online Public Inspection File Goes Live Today – Top 50 Market Radio Stations To Start Transition

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, Television
As we’ve written many times (see, for instance, the articles here and here), today is the day that the FCC’s new online public inspection file goes live.  For TV stations, the system is supposed to be more dependable and user friendly.  For radio, commercial stations in the Top 50 Nielsen radio markets are supposed to… Continue Reading

Using Text Messages in Promotions and Contests? – $8,500,000 Settlement Provides Reminder to Make Sure You are Aware of TCPA Obligations

Posted in Advertising Issues, FCC Fines, Privacy
In the last few days, the trade press has been full of stories about a settlement of a lawsuit brought against a large broadcaster for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). Given that the settlement was for $8.5 million, it has commanded lots of attention. While much of this attention seems to… Continue Reading

Fine for Missing Quarterly Issues Programs List Not Excused by Intervening Transfer of Control of TV Station – Buy Assets Not Stock to Avoid Assuming Prior Owner’s FCC Liabilities

Posted in Assignments and Transfers, FCC Fines, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
In an FCC decision fining a TV station $10,000 for failing to include 15 Quarterly Issues Programs lists in its public inspection file, the FCC refused to reduce the proposed liability based on an intervening “long-form” transfer of control followed by a short-form assignment of license of the station. Thus, even though the station was… Continue Reading

Looking at the FCC’s Indecency Rules – Does Anyone Know What’s Prohibited and What’s Permitted?

Posted in FCC Fines, Indecency, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Programming Regulations
A Washington Post article published this weekend was titled “Is there anything you can’t say on TV anymore? It’s complicated.” And, it really is. The Post article presents a very good overview on the status of the FCC’s indecency rules. What will happen with those rules has been a matter of conjecture for several years,… Continue Reading

Does the FCC Use the Online Public File to Spot Rule Violations? $20,000 Fine to TV Station for Late-Filed Children’s Television Reports Suggests it Does

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fines, General FCC, License Renewal, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Television
In a Notice of Apparent Liability released yesterday, the FCC proposed to fine a TV station $20,000 for being late in the filing of 4 years of Quarterly Children’s Television Programming Reports (FCC Form 398). While the penalty is consistent with the size of penalties that the FCC has been imposing for similar violations in… Continue Reading

In Thinking About April Fools’ Day Pranks, Remember the FCC’s Hoax Rule and other Potential Liability

Posted in FCC Fines, Programming Regulations
With April Fools’ Day only a few days away, we need to play our role as attorneys and ruin the fun by repeating our annual reminder that broadcasters need to be careful with any on-air pranks, jokes or other bits prepared especially for the day.  While a little fun is OK, remember that the FCC does have a… Continue Reading

Broadcast Creditors Beware – $11,000 Fine Imposed for FCC Reporting Shortcomings in an AM Foreclosure Action

Posted in Assignments and Transfers, FCC Fines, General FCC
The potential perils of foreclosing on a radio station were evident in a Consent Decree released by the FCC’s Media Bureau yesterday, agreeing to an $11,000 penalty to be paid to the FCC U.S. Treasury before a station could be sold by a receiver to help pay off the debts of an AM radio station… Continue Reading

FCC Fines Public Broadcaster $10,000 for Missing Quarterly Issues Programs Lists – No Leniency Without Showing of Financial Hardship

Posted in FCC Fines, Noncommercial Broadcasting
The FCC yesterday released an order fining a public broadcaster $10,000 for failing to prepare and place in its public file 13 consecutive quarterly issues programs lists. The licensee had pleaded that the radio station fine should be reduced given that the public file failure began when it acquired the station from a local college that… Continue Reading

New Broadcast Contest Rules Becoming Effective – OMB Approval to Be Published In the Federal Register

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, Programming Regulations, Television, Website Issues
The FCC’s new contest rules for broadcasters, allowing the disclosure of material terms on the Internet rather than reading them on the air, becomes effective upon the publication in the Federal Register of their approval by the Office of Management and Budget. OMB approval has been obtained, and the Federal Register publication is scheduled to… Continue Reading

FCC Announces that All Quarterly Children’s Television Reports Need to be Filed in New LMS Filing System Starting March 31 – And that Stations Need to Make Sure that these Reports Reach the Online Public File By April 10

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fines
In a Public Notice released yesterday, the FCC announced that all Form 398 Annual Children’s Television Programming Reports, which report on the amount of educational and informational programming directed to children was broadcast by any TV station in the prior quarter, need to be filed in the FCC’s new Licensing and Management System (LMS). The… Continue Reading

$540,000 FCC Penalty for Cumulus Station Missing Formal Sponsorship Identification on Issue Ad Campaign

Posted in FCC Fines, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting
The FCC yesterday released, and trumpeted, a Consent Decree reached with Cumulus Radio for a violation at one of its New Hampshire stations where full sponsorship identification announcements were not made on issue ads promoting an electric company’s construction project in New Hampshire.  In the Consent Decree, Cumulus agreed to pay a $540,000 penalty to… Continue Reading

Buyers of Broadcast Stations Through Stock Transfer Beware – Liability for Fines of Prior Owner Can Still be Imposed After the Transfer

Posted in Assignments and Transfers, FCC Fines
In a recent decision, the FCC made clear that when there is a transfer of control of a station through the sale of the stock of the licensee company, the new owners are not absolved of any FCC violations that may have taken place when the old owners controlled the company. In this case, the… Continue Reading

The Care and Feeding of the Broadcast Public Inspection File – Requirements and Retention Periods, A Presentation on the Issues

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, License Renewal, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The FCC requires each full-power broadcast station, commercial and noncommercial, to maintain a public inspection file.  Even though this is a longstanding FCC requirement, there are always questions about what goes into the file, and how long those materials must be retained.  The week before last, I conducted a webinar for about 20 state broadcast… Continue Reading