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Category Archives: FCC Fines

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FCC Reminder About Activation of the Online Public Inspection File – Potential Impact of Noncompliance at License Renewal Time

Posted in FCC Fines, General FCC, License Renewal, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Website Issues
By March 1 of 2018, all radio stations were to have activated their online public file. We wrote about how that activation should be done here, and answered other questions about the online public file for radio here. Yet, from my own review, and from what I have heard from engineers who conduct reviews of… Continue Reading

FCC Adopts Change in Rules Eliminating Broadcasters’ Obligations to File Certain Contracts

Posted in FCC Fines, General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, Programming Regulations
The FCC yesterday adopted an Order eliminating the requirement that broadcasters file with the Commission copies of certain contracts, agreements and other documents relating to ownership and control – instead relying on the obligations to either upload the documents to a station’s online public file, or to place a list of the documents in the… Continue Reading

Another EEO Audit – This Time for Cable – Reminds Broadcasters to Observe Their EEO Obligations

Posted in Cable Carriage, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines
Earlier this month, the FCC announced another of its regular EEO audits, though this time it’s just for cable systems and other MVPDs who, like broadcasters, have EEO obligations. The FCC will audit 5% of all broadcasters and cable companies each year to assess their EEO compliance, so be prepared in case you are next.… Continue Reading

Another FCC Broadcast Case Designated for Hearing – With Much Different Stakes

Posted in FCC Fines, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, License Renewal
Yesterday, the FCC issued a hearing designation order – though one with much lower stakes than the last designation order issued by the FCC which seemingly resulted in the termination of the proposed Sinclair-Tribune merger. Yesterday’s order was at almost the opposite end of the spectrum from a massive merger of TV companies – the… Continue Reading

FCC Releases Draft Order to Eliminate Broadcasters’ Obligations to File Contracts, Relying on Online Public File to Make Documents Available

Posted in FCC Fines, General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, Programming Regulations
The FCC this week released its draft order proposing to eliminate the requirement that broadcasters file certain contracts relating to ownership and control with the Commission. Instead, the disclosure of these documents will be made simply by observing the current requirement that stations either (1) make those documents available in the station’s online public file,… Continue Reading

October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, EEO Public File Obligations, Nationwide EAS Test, Registration of C Band Earth Stations, and Comments in Numerous FCC Proceedings

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Multiple Ownership Rules, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
October is one of the busiest months on the broadcast regulatory calendar, as it includes a confluence of routine EEO filing requirements, quarterly filing requirements for Children’s Television Reports, public file uploading for all stations for their Quarterly Issues Programs Lists, a Nationwide EAS test, and comment dates in many FCC proceedings. Make sure that… Continue Reading

Consent Decrees Remind Broadcasters to Seek FCC Approval for Corporate Changes – Even When Control Does Not Change

Posted in Assignments and Transfers, FCC Fines, General FCC
Last week, the FCC released a Consent Decree where a broadcast company admitted to certain unauthorized transfers of several stations, even though actual control of the stations, for the most part, did not change. Stock of the company was transferred into a trust by the company’s shareholder without FCC approval, even though the shareholder continued… Continue Reading

Moving FCC EEO Enforcement from the Media to the Enforcement Bureau – What Does It Mean?

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines, License Renewal
The FCC yesterday adopted an order moving broadcast EEO enforcement from the FCC’s Media Bureau to its Enforcement Bureau. The change will be effective later, after certain procedural approvals are obtained and after notice is published in the Federal Register. As EEO enforcement is primarily aimed at broadcasters and cable companies, and has been part… Continue Reading

Reminder – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists Must Be Placed In Public File Today

Posted in FCC Fines, License Renewal, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
Last week, in our calendar of regulatory dates for broadcasters in July, we reminded broadcasters that their Quarterly Issues Programs lists needed to be placed in their public file by today, July 10. This quarterly requirement has been in place for over 30 years, but is still an obligation whose breach has led to more… Continue Reading

Countdown to License Renewal – Recent FCC Decisions Highlight Some Issues to Consider

Posted in FCC Fines, License Renewal, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
We are less than one year away from the beginning of the next radio license renewal cycle. By June 1 of 2019, radio broadcasters with stations licensed to communities in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia must have their license renewal applications on file. Stations in certain southeastern states follow two months… Continue Reading

Another Pirate Radio Equipment Seizure, as Bill to Increase Pirate Radio Penalties Introduced in Congress

Posted in FCC Fines, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC
Yesterday, the FCC announced that it had seized the equipment of another pirate radio operator, this time one who was operating from a high-rise in Manhattan. The pirate was operating an unauthorized FM radio station from a New York apartment building. As we recently wrote in connection with another seizure of the equipment of a pirate… Continue Reading

FCC Grants 39 Radio Stations 60 Days to Complete Online Public File Conversion – Reminder to All Other Broadcasters that their Conversion Should be Complete

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
The FCC yesterday issued an order granting 39 radio stations (almost all stations with very small staffs or those affected by recent hurricanes or otherwise non-operational) 60 days to comply with the requirement that all full-power radio stations complete the transition to the online public file by this past March 1. We wrote about this… Continue Reading

FM Translators and Pirates on the FCC Agenda at the NAB Convention – New Rules on Translator Interference to be Proposed

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM
At this week’s NAB Convention, issues about FM translators and pirate radio dominated the radio news from the sessions that featured FCC speakers. On the translator front, FCC Chairman Pai, in his speech to the convention, announced that there is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that has been drafted and is being considered by the… Continue Reading

FCC Continues War on Pirate Radio – Seizes Equipment of Boston Stations While New Legislative Tools May Be on the Way

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
The FCC yesterday announced that they had seized the equipment of two Boston-area pirate radio stations that had refused to cease operations after receiving FCC notices to do so. The FCC Public Notice on the seizure thanks the US Attorney’s Office and US Marshall’s Office, and the Boston Police Department, for assisting the FCC Field… Continue Reading

With April Fools’ Day Coming Up, Plan Your On-Air Pranks with Care – Remember the FCC Hoax Rule

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, General FCC, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
With April Fools’ Day falling on a Sunday this year, perhaps the potential for on-air pranks is lessened. But, then again, who knows what weekend talent may be planning? So, as we do every year about is time, we need to play our role as attorneys and ruin the fun by repeating our reminder that broadcasters need… Continue Reading

Five Fines of $10,000 or More Proposed for Radio Stations Missing Quarterly Issues Programs Lists in their Public File – New Concerns for Stations as Public File Goes Online and License Renewal Approaches

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The FCC’s Audio Division yesterday issued “Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture” to five radio stations; all owned by Cumulus Licensing. Each of these notices proposed a fine (called a “forfeiture” in FCC-speak) of either $10,000 (here) or $12,000 (here, here, here and here), all for violations of the FCC public file rules. All of… Continue Reading

FCC Reaches Consent Decree with Noncommercial Broadcaster Imposing Largest Fine Ever Issued for Underwriting Violations – $115,000

Posted in Advertising Issues, FCC Fines, Noncommercial Broadcasting
Noncommercial broadcast stations are licensed to be just that – noncommercial. These stations can run “underwriting announcements” acknowledging commercial businesses that provide financial support to the stations, but such announcements must meet strict guidelines – including restrictions on “calls to action,” prohibitions on statements about prices or discounts, and requirements that no qualitative claim about… Continue Reading

Time for the FCC to Review Children’s Television Educational Programming Obligations of Broadcasters?  Commissioner O’Rielly Thinks So

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fines, License Renewal, Programming Regulations
Last week, Commissioner O’Rielly published an article on the FCC blog, suggesting that one of the next steps in the FCC’s Modernization of Media Regulation initiative should be the review of the FCC rules setting obligations for television stations to air educational and informational programming directed to children.  Stations are required to air an average… Continue Reading

What Issues Should Broadcasters be Considering When Taking Advantage of New Rules Abolishing Main Studio and Staffing Requirements?

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, General FCC, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
The FCC this week published a Small Business Compliance Guide for companies looking to take advantage of the FCC’s elimination of the main studio rules and the studio staffing requirements associated with those rules (see our articles here and here summarizing the rule changes). The Compliance Guide points out that stations looking to eliminate their… Continue Reading

When the President Uses a Profanity, What Can Broadcast News Do?

Posted in FCC Fines, Indecency, Programming Regulations
Yesterday, the President reportedly used the word “shithole” to describe certain countries whose immigrants were seemingly less favored than others. This predictably caused outrage in many quarters – and left the electronic media, especially broadcast TV in a quandary. Do they broadcast the purportedly used term, or do they use some euphemism so that “shit,”… Continue Reading

Proposed $13,376,200 Fine Illustrates FCC Concern over Sponsorship Identification Issues

Posted in FCC Fines, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Television
The FCC, apparently not in a holiday mood, yesterday released a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing a $13,376,200 fine against Sinclair Broadcast group for alleged violations of the sponsorship identification requirements of Section 317 of the Communications Act and Section 73.1212 of the FCC rules. The FCC alleges that program segments contained in news broadcasts… Continue Reading

FCC Still Enforcing EEO Rules For Broadcasters – $20,000 Fine for Stations that Did Not Document EEO Outreach

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines
A Notice of Apparent Liability released yesterday shows that the FCC is still enforcing its EEO rules even though those rules have been somewhat relaxed to reflect modern recruiting practices. As we wrote here, the FCC now allows a station to recruit to fill employment vacancies solely by using online sources. But, as we warned… Continue Reading

FCC Makes Clear By $1,500,000 Penalty, and Cancellation of Station Licenses, that Sequential Minor Change Applications with Temporary Construction of Facilities to Move LPTV Stations Great Distances Not Allowed

Posted in FCC Fines, General FCC, Low Power Television/Class A TV
Last week, the FCC issued an Order and Consent Decree agreeing to end an investigation of a big operator of LPTV stations that had allegedly applied for new LPTV stations in a 2009 FCC filing window where applications were restricted to rural areas, obtained construction permits for those stations, and, through a series of minor… Continue Reading