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Category Archives: FCC Fines

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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

FCC Reminder to Video Programming Distributors – Including Broadcasters – on Accessibility Obligations

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, Television
With the recent hurricanes and last night’s tragedy in Las Vegas, the FCC Public Notice issued last week reminding all video programmers of the importance of making emergency information accessible to all viewers seems very timely. The public notice serves as a good refresher on all of the obligations of video programmers designed to make… Continue Reading

October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs and Children’s Television Reports, EEO Obligations, Repacking Reports and More

Posted in AM Radio, Children's Programming and Advertising, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Multiple Ownership Rules, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The beginning of a calendar quarter always brings numerous regulatory obligations, and October is one of those months with a particularly full set of obligations. All full-power broadcasters, commercial and noncommercial, must complete their Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and place these reports into their public inspection files by October 10. These reports are the FCC’s… Continue Reading

FCC Proposes $144,344 Fine on Pirate Radio Operator and His Landlord

Posted in FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC
Yesterday, the FCC adopted a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing to fine three individuals $144,344 for operating a pirate radio station in North Miami, Florida.  One individual is alleged to have programed and operated the station while the other two are a husband and wife who owned the property from which the station transmitted. The… Continue Reading

Update: FCC Adopted Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Eliminate the Requirement that Licensees Maintain Paper Copy of the Rules

Posted in FCC Fines, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Low Power Television/Class A TV
At its meeting yesterday, as promised, the FCC adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking to eliminate the rule that certain classes of FCC licensees maintain a paper copy of the FCC rules. We wrote about the draft NPRM here, which the FCC substantially adopted. Under current rules, licensees of LPTV, TV and FM translator, and… Continue Reading

FCC Issues Draft Proposal To Revoke Rule Requiring Physical Copy of FCC Rules at All Broadcast Stations

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, Television
We yesterday wrote about Chairman Pai’s promise to start the process of modernizing media regulation by abolishing a simple but outdated rule – one requiring that each broadcast station have a physical copy of the FCC rules on the station premises. Yesterday, the FCC released a draft of their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement… Continue Reading

More and More Actions on Pirate Radio – What is Next?

Posted in FCC Fines, FM Radio, Programming Regulations
It seems like virtually every day, the FCC announces that it has sent numerous Notices to pirate radio operators warning them that their operations are illegal and that, if the operations do not cease, legal penalties may follow. Yesterday, the FCC released ten such Notices, including ones sent to operators of pirate radio stations themselves… Continue Reading

$17,500 Settlement by TV Broadcaster for Not Identifying Educational and Informational Children’s Programming – Reminder that the FCC is Still in the Enforcement Business

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fines, License Renewal, Programming Regulations, Television
The FCC announced a Consent Decree with a New Jersey TV station where the licensee agreed to make a $17,500 payment to the US Treasury for failing to identify “core” educational and informational programming directed to children with the required “E/I” symbol on the programming itself. This programming was, according to the consent decree, run… Continue Reading

Proposed $66,000 Fine Reminds Broadcasters to Prepare for September Nationwide EAS Test

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fines
FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has notified the FCC that it will be conducting the next nationwide test of the EAS system on September 27, 2017 (with a back-up date of October 4, 2017 – in the event potential real emergencies make the earlier date one that could cause confusion). The FCC has updated… Continue Reading

FCC’s Elimination of the Requirement that Letters From the Public be Kept in a Broadcaster’s Public Inspection File Effective Today

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
Today, the order eliminating the requirement that broadcasters maintain in a paper public inspection file copies of letters and emails to their stations about station operations becomes effective. While the FCC abolished the requirement back in January, one of the first deregulatory actions of the new Chairman (see our article on that decision here), the… Continue Reading

Modernization of Media Regulation – What Rule Changes Should Broadcasters be Requesting?

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
It is not every year that the FCC seriously asks broadcasters for suggestions as to what rules it should abolish or modify, but that is exactly what the FCC is doing in its Modernization of Media Regulation proceeding (about which we wrote here and here). Comments due the week after next, on July 5, and… Continue Reading