The FCC issued a Forfeiture Order this week, fining a station $7000 for violations of the main studio rule. The facts of the case were set out in a Notice of Apparent Liability issued back in February, where the licensee had claimed that its studio was in a location that was shared with another broadcaster who had agreed to lease it space. The supposed landlord, however, said that the lease agreement had expired and the licensee had no employees or equipment at the location of the studio. While the initial proposed fine was to be $17,500 for both the failure to have a main studio and to have a public file, the Forfeiture Order reduced the fine as the landlord acknowledged that the public file was at the studio location, even if there were no licensee employees there. The decision reiterates what the FCC is seeking when it looks to determine if a licensee is in compliance with the main studio rules.
The decision recites the Commission’s policy for a main studio, stating:
The Commission has interpreted Section 73.1125 to require broadcast licensees to “equip the main studio with production and transmission facilities that meet applicable standards, maintain continuous program transmission capability, and maintain a meaningful management and staff presence.” Specifically, the Commission has found that a main studio “must, at a minimum, maintain full-time managerial and full-time staff personnel.”
It goes on to set out that, in situations where studios are shared by different licensees, it is looking for evidence (like a written contract) that the landlord’s equipment is actually available for use by the licensee sharing the facilities. We have written about the main studio obligations before, here. To stay compliant, make sure that a station’s main studio is staffed during normal business hours, has at least two employees (one of whom is a management employee) who report there on a daily basis as their principal place of business, and has equipment ready and available so that the licensee’s employees can originate operations from the main studio at any time. This licensee’s fine is a good reminder to all other broadcasters to observe these requirements.