A flurry of fines against broadcasters have come out of the FCC in the last week. These fines highlight the scrutiny under which owners of broadcast stations can find themselves should an FCC Field Office inspector knock on their door. If the FCC pays a visit and finds a violation, a station is often looking at a fine even if it quickly takes corrective action. Let’s look at some of these fines and the issues raised by each.
First, a Regional Director of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau yesterday released a $17,000 Forfeiture Order (a notice of a fine) to a Michigan AM broadcaster for having a fence around its tower that had “separated” allowing unfettered access to the site and for missing quarterly issues programs lists in the public file. The FCC refused to lower the fine, despite the licensee’s arguments that the quarterly issues programs lists were in fact at the station but there was “confusion” as to where they were at the time of the inspection, and its argument that it should not be responsible for the fencing issue as it did not itself own the real estate or the towers.