In a decision released Friday, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau imposed a fine of $7000 on a station for violation of Section 73.49 of the Rules, requiring AM station towers with the potential for RF radiation at their base to be completely enclosed within a fence or other secure enclosure. What was notable about this decision is that the FCC rejected claims that the station should not be fined because it did not own the tower.
The Enforcement Bureau found that Section 73.49 imposed a duty on AM licensees, not on tower owners. Thus, the duty to fence the tower is one that the licensee is responsible for meeting, even if some other party owns the tower.
The FCC noted that for all other towers, the primary duty for maintenance and repair of a tower is on the antenna structure owner, but even then the FCC imposes a secondary duty on the licensee to make sure that all legal obligations are being met. While the FCC left for another day the issue of what would happen if a licensee did not meet that secondary duty in some case not involving an AM station, they made clear that, for AM stations, the licensee cannot delegate the responsibility for the fencing obligation.