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Category Archives: FCC Fines

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Video Looking at the Basics of the Online Public Inspection File and Quarterly Issues Programs Lists

Posted in FCC Fines, General FCC, License Renewal, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Uncategorized
Looking for a brief explanation of the online public inspection file and Quarterly Issues Programs List, and how they will be viewed in connection with the upcoming license renewal cycle – including the potential fines for violations of the rules? The Indiana Broadcasters has just released this video of me discussing those issues available here.… Continue Reading

April Fool’s Day is Monday – Don’t Let the Joke Be on You by Forgetting the FCC’s Hoax Rule

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, General FCC
It’s that time again.  If you are planning any on-air pranks on Monday for April Fools’ Day, think twice.  As we do every year about this time, we need to play our role as attorneys and ruin the fun by repeating our reminder that broadcasters need to be careful with any on-air pranks, jokes or other… Continue Reading

Transfer of FCC EEO Branch from Media Bureau to Enforcement Bureau Now Effective

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines
In July, we wrote about the FCC’s plan to transfer the responsibility for EEO enforcement from the Media Bureau, where it has resided, to the Enforcement Bureau which the FCC suggested would have more resources and experience to aggressively enforce the FCC’s EEO rules and policies.  That transfer was effective on Friday (see the FCC… Continue Reading

FCC Sends More Warnings to Radio Stations that Are Not Compliant with Online Inspection Public File Obligations – Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists are the Biggest Target

Posted in FCC Fines, License Renewal, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Website Issues
The FCC has once again started sending out email notices to broadcast stations that are not in compliance with their online public file obligations. This follows a set of notices sent in early December, where the FCC first warned specific stations that there were issues with their online public inspection files (see our article here).… Continue Reading

PIRATE Act Passes House of Representatives Imposing Fines of $100,000 a Day on Unlicensed Radio Operators – Now on to the Senate

Posted in FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC
The PIRATE Act, imposing Federal penalties on pirate radio station operators, was passed last week by the US House of Representatives and referred to the US Senate for consideration. We wrote about versions of this bill introduced in prior Congressional sessions here and here. This bill, among other things, would impose penalties of up to… Continue Reading

A Call to Regulate E-Cig Advertising – What is the FCC’s Role in Regulating Advertising For the Vices?

Posted in Advertising Issues, Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fines, General FCC, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
In recent months, there have been many calls to regulate e-cigs, and potentially to regulate the marketing of all sorts of vaping products, including a call last week by an FCC Commissioner in an op-ed article in USA Today.  As we wrote several months ago, these suggestions have been based in the fear that increased… Continue Reading

FCC Starts First EEO Audit of Radio and TV Stations for 2019 – And Announces Upcoming Review of its EEO Audit and Enforcement Program

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines, License Renewal
On Friday, the FCC issued its first EEO audit of almost 300 radio and TV stations across the country (see the model audit letter and list of stations affected here), the day after announcing its intent to abolish the Form 397 EEO Mid-Term Report (see our articles here and here).  In the Order announcing the… Continue Reading

Elimination of Requirement that Broadcasters Post Their Licenses Becomes Effective

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, Television
As we wrote here, at the FCC’s December meeting, the FCC was scheduled to adopt an order eliminating the requirement that broadcasters post a physical copy of their licenses and other instruments of authorization at their control points or transmitter sites. In fact, the Commission adopted that order before the meeting, and it today published… Continue Reading

FCC Starts Warning Stations of Noncompliance with Online Public Inspection File Rules

Posted in FCC Fines, License Renewal, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
This morning, the FCC has started to email out notices to numerous radio stations throughout the country, notifying them that there are issues with their online public inspection files. The email notices do not reveal what the specific problem is – but instead simply say that there are issues and ask for notice of corrective… Continue Reading

FCC Fine for Premature Construction of Radio Station – Don’t Construct New Facilities Without FCC Permission

Posted in FCC Fines
The FCC has for decades prohibited the “premature construction” of broadcast stations – constructing new stations or new facilities for existing stations prior to the issuance of an FCC construction permit. In recent years, fines for such activities have been rare. But, last week, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing to fine… Continue Reading

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