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Category Archives: FCC Fines

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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

The Limits on FCC Leniency on Fines for Noncommercial Broadcast Stations

Posted in Appearances, FCC Fines, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting
In a decision released last Friday, the FCC made clear how far it is willing to go in extending to noncommercial stations leniency for fines for violations of its rules. As we have written before, the FCC changed its policy in a case in which we were involved so as to mitigate harsh penalties for… Continue Reading

Contest Rule Revisions Published in the Federal Register for Paperwork Reduction Act Review – Effective Date Not Until at Least December

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, Programming Regulations, Television
Today, the FCC published notice in the Federal Register of the adoption of the new simplified rules for publicizing the material rules for contests conducted by broadcasters. This publication was for purposes of review by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act, a review necessary before any new rules requiring any… Continue Reading

FCC Upholds $50,000 Penalty for Noncommercial LMA Where Licensee Paid More than its Operational Expenses

Posted in Assignments and Transfers, FCC Fines, Noncommercial Broadcasting
A decision that noncommercial broadcasters should note was released by the Commission last week. The decision was one that upheld a 2012 consent decree where, to resolve objections against the sale of a noncommercial radio station owned by the University of San Francisco, the Media Bureau imposed a fine of $50,000 for a pre-sale LMA… Continue Reading

FCC Revises Broadcast Contest Rules – Allows Disclosure of Material Rules on the Internet

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, Television, Website Issues
The FCC yesterday agreed to modernize its contest rules, allowing broadcasters to publicize the material terms of a contest that is conducted by a station through posting those rules on an Internet website, rather than requiring that the material rules be read on the air often enough so that a listener is likely to have… Continue Reading

The Location of the Public Inspection File of a College Radio Station When the Station’s Main Studio is in a Building Not Open to the General Public Addressed in FCC Consent Decree

Posted in FCC Fines, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
How to deal with a noncommercial radio station’s public inspection file when the station is licensed to a college and has a main studio in a restricted-access student residence hall is a question that I have received repeatedly when I have conducted sessions on FCC rules at noncommercial broadcasters’ conventions and meetings.  In a consent… Continue Reading

How Broadcasters Could Have Big Liability For Texts And Calls under The FCC’s Recent Order on The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

Posted in Advertising Issues, FCC Fines, General FCC, Privacy
The FCC recently issued a Declaratory Ruling and Order on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – and that order highlights many issues with broadcasters who use texts or outbound automated calls to the mobile devices of viewers and listeners. In fact, today the FCC released a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing to fine a… Continue Reading

$90,000 Payment to FCC by TV Owner for Claiming Reruns of One-Time Programs as Meeting “CORE” Children’s Educational and Informational Programming Requirement

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fines, License Renewal, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Television
On Friday, the FCC announced a consent decree for violations of the requirements that TV stations provide at least three weekly hours of CORE programming addressing the educational and informational needs of children. The operator of eight TV and Class A TV stations in the southeast US agreed to make a $90,000 “voluntary contribution” to… Continue Reading

FCC Fines iHeart Media $1,000,000 for Broadcasting EAS Alert Tones When there was No Emergency – What the Big Fine Says to Broadcasters

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fines
One million dollars is still a big fine, even though the FCC has been handing out fines for that amount, or more, many times in recent months. But fines rarely hit these levels for broadcasters. But, yesterday, the FCC issued such a fine – hitting iHeart Media with a $1 Million fine as part of… Continue Reading

A Seminar on FCC Rules for College Broadcasters – And an FCC Case on the Limits on Leniency on Fines For Rule Violations By Noncommercial Broadcasters

Posted in Appearances, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, Noncommercial Broadcasting
Last month, I did a seminar at the College Media Association about the FCC legal issues that college broadcasters need to think about – talking about required FCC filings, pubic file obligations, underwriting issues, and programming that can get the broadcaster into trouble. Slides from that presentation, which present only an outline of the more… Continue Reading

FCC Admonishes TV Station for Including Commercial Website Address in Children’s Program – A Good Reminder on Children’s Television Program Restrictions

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fines, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Television, Website Issues
In a decision just released by the FCC, a TV station was admonished for including, in the credits of a TV program, the URL for a website that contained commercial material. As this was deemed by the FCC to be an isolated occurrence, the station was only admonished, not fined for the violation. But the… Continue Reading

Commissioner O’Rielly Proposes to Bring Mandatory FCC EEO Recruiting Into the Modern Era by Allowing Reliance on Internet Resources

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines
In a post on the FCC’s blog, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly proposed allowing broadcasters to meet their EEO wide dissemination obligations solely through Internet sources. As we recently wrote, broadcasters need to widely disseminate information about job openings at their stations, using sources that are designed to reach all of the major groups that may exist within… Continue Reading

FCC Fines: $17,000 for Unsecure AM Tower Fence (Not Owning the Tower Site is No Excuse); $25,000 for Missing Quarterly Issues Programs Lists; $22,000 for Nonfunctioning EAS and Wrong Tower Coordinates

Posted in AM Radio, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, General FCC, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Tower Issues
A flurry of fines against broadcasters have come out of the FCC in the last week.  These fines highlight the scrutiny under which owners of broadcast stations can find themselves should an FCC Field Office inspector knock on their door.  If the FCC pays a visit and finds a violation, a station is often looking… Continue Reading