Yesterday, the FCC released two public notices reflecting its attempts to assist broadcasters coping with the COVID-19 crisis. The first public notice deals with the attempts of several broadcasters to support their advertisers while at the same time filling advertising inventory holes that have been created by the cancellation of other advertising schedules. Broadcasters who
An FCC Enforcement Bureau District Office today issued a Notice of Apparent Liability, proposing to fine an AM licensee $25,000 for not having a meaningful staff presence at the station’s main studio, and for not being able to produce a public inspection file when the FCC inspectors visited the station. The station…
$15,000 per station was the cost of a broadcast licensee’s failure to adequately supervise two stations of which he was the licensee, but which were operated pursuant to time brokerage agreements or LMAs. Like many stations in these tough economic times, this licensee decided to allow a third party to provide the bulk of the programming and retain the bulk of the sales revenues, in exchange for a payment. However, as the licensee remained the licensee, he was required to maintain and exercise control over the station’s operations, and maintain a meaningful staff presence at the station. In reviewing the operations of these stations, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau in recent decisions (here and here) concluded that the adequacy of that control was insufficient – providing a warning to other station licensees operating under LMA agreements that they must maintain operational control over the stations that they own.
The FCC has long said that a licensee must maintain a meaningful staff presence at a station, even if the station receives the vast majority of its programming from some other source – whether that is a network or programming provided under an LMA. Meaningful presence has required that at least two employees at the station be employed by the licensee, one of whom must be managerial and perform no services for the broker providing the programming under the LMA. This case makes clear that these required licensee employees must be physically present at the station’s main studio on a regular day to day basis – they cannot be located at some distant location supervising the station remotely or only periodically present at the main studio. Failure to have the station’s main studio manned by the required personnel in and of itself accounted for $7000 of the fine in this case.Continue Reading FCC Issues $15,000 Fines For Unauthorized Transfer of Control and Main Studio Staffing Violations for LMA Done Wrong