The FCC last week considered two requests for reconsideration of fines issued to broadcasters for violations of FCC rules relating to their broadcast towers.  While the FCC reduced one fine because of the licensee’s inability to pay the amount originally specified, both broadcasters will have to make payments to the Commission because of their failures to meet the FCC’s rules regarding the ownership of broadcast towers.  These cases remind broadcasters of their obligations to meet the Commission’s tower rules, and should cause all broadcasters to check their compliance. 

In the first case, the FCC reduced the fine of a licensee who had failed to fence its AM station’s tower, but only because the licensee proved that it could not pay a higher fine.  But a $500 fine was still imposed as the owner had no fence around a series-fed AM tower.  The FCC pointed out that its rules require that any AM tower that has the potential for an RF radiation hazard at the base of the tower must be fenced. This station had violated that rule.

In the second, the FCC let a $2400 fine stand against an AM broadcaster who had failed to register its 305 foot tower with the FCC .  Under the Commission’s rules, a tower owner must register its tower with the Commission if the tower meets certain criteria set out in the FCC rules – generally when it exceeds 200 feet in height,  or if it is lower but within certain distances of the end of an airport runway.  The FCC had twice inspected the station involved in the case, two years apart, and the tower was not registered in either case.  While the licensee had made unsuccessful attempts to register the tower, these had failed because the tower had not been approved by the FAA, and the FCC faulted the licensee for not actively monitoring the status of the FAA application.

 These cases remind broadcasters of their obligations to maintain their towers and observe all FCC rules about these towers.  The FCC seemingly has zero tolerance for improperly maintained broadcast towers.