The FCC today issued a Forfeiture Order imposing a $30,000 fine on the licensee of three television stations for the stations’ failure to publicize the existence and location of the Children’s Television Reports for the Stations.  Even at a rate of $10,000 per station, this fine is significant and should serve as a loud, clear

The Commission today released yet another forfeiture for what has become an increasingly common oversight among broadcasters — the failure to timely file a license renewal application for a satellite earth station.  What made today’s forfeiture unique, however, is the fact that the Commission proposed to double the amount of the forfeiture based on the size of the broadcast licensee and its presumed ability to pay such a fine.  After balancing all the factors, the Commission ultimately ratcheted the fine down a bit, but in the end it assessed a $25,000 fine for the failure to timely file license renewal applications for two earth stations and for the continued operation of those facilities without proper authority.  In light of today’s decision, broadcasters should be sure to review and track the expiration dates for all FCC authorizations. 

The FCC’s decision in this case makes clear that in imposing a large fine in this case it is attempting to send a message that the Licensee will heed.  Per the Commission’s decision:  "This $16,000 forfeiture amount [the baseline forfeiture]  is subject to adjustment, however.  In this regard, we consider the size of the violator and ability to pay a forfeiture, as well as its prior violation of the same rule sections before us today.  To ensure that forfeiture liability is a deterrent, and not simply a cost of doing business, the Commission has determined that large or highly profitable companies such as [Licensee] , could expect the assessment of higher forfeitures for violations, and that prior violations of the same or other regulations would also be a factor contributing to upward adjustment of apparent liability.  Given [Licensee’s] size and its ability to pay a forfeiture, coupled with its previous violation, we conclude that an upward adjustment of the base forfeiture amount to $32,000 is appropriate."  [Emphasis added.]  In reaching its decision, the Commission noted that the Licensee in this case was a large broadcaster with "net yearly sales" of over $110 million.  

This forfeiture should serve as a clear warning to broadcasters both big and small to review and track the expiration dates of any earth stations or other authorizations held by a broadcast station.  Rarely (if ever) will the license term of an earth station authorization coincide with the renewal of the parent broadcast station, which means it is easy for the earth station to slip through the cracks.  Continue Reading Broadcasters Beware: Failure to Timely Renew Earth Stations Can Draw Large Fines

The FCC last week issued a decision that should make Buyers think twice in determining how sales of broadcast stations are concluded – especially in the days of $325,000 potential fines for indecency violations.  In the case decided last week, the Commission concluded that the licensee of a broadcast station was liable for fines for violations