special temporary authority

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • Follow field testing by GeoBroadcast Solutions of its zonecasting system, the FCC opened a new comment period for interested parties

The FCC this week released a Public Notice (that we mentioned in our update on regulatory dates for May) announcing that, on May 17, many new applications and other filings will be migrating to the FCC’s newer LMS filing platform.  These include many of the documents that had been until recently filed in the FCC’s old CDBS platform.  These applications had, since CDBS was closed for new filings, been submitted through emails to the FCC (see our articles here and here).

Most notably, the new LMS filings will include requests for Special Temporary Authority – and future requests for extensions of STAs.  The FCC notes that for STAs that had originally been filed in CDBS, rather than filing an extension request for such STAs, applicants should initially file for a new STA in LMS and indicate in an exhibit that the request is for an extension of an existing STA that was filed in CDBS (or by email in the interim processing period).  The full list of applications that will, as of May 17, be filed in LMS is as follows:

  • FM Engineering Special Temporary Authorizations (STAs)
  • Request for Silent STA
  • Extension of STA – Silent
  • Extension of STA – Engineering
  • Suspension of Operations Notification
  • Resumption of Operations
  • AM/FM Digital Notification
  • Modulation Dependent Carrier Level (MDCL) Notification
  • Change of Primary Station Notification
  • Tolling Notification
  • Reduced Power Notification
  • Withdraw Pending Applications


Continue Reading More FCC Broadcast Applications Moving to LMS – Including Requests for STAs

The failure to follow FCC filing rules when a station finished construction of new facilities under a construction permit will apparently cost a radio station $7000 according to a recent Notice of Apparent Liability released by the Commission’s Media Bureau.  Before a broadcast station can make most changes to its technical facilities, it must apply to the FCC for approval, which the FCC grants by way of a construction permit.  In most cases, the broadcaster has 3 years to construct the proposed facilities.  Once construction is complete, the broadcaster must notify the FCC of that fact by filing an application for a license on FCC Form 302.  That form gives details of the construction, so that the FCC can tell that the station was built in the manner authorized by the construction permit, and in accordance with any conditions placed on construction in the permit.  In this case, the broadcaster built the new facilities that it proposed within the 3 year period, but forgot to file the Form 302 – and only did so 3 years after the end of the construction period.  Under this Notice, the late filing, and the failure to ask for special temporary authority ("STA") to operate the station after the failure to file was discovered, may cost the station $7000.

In the past, the FCC had allowed some stations to file their license application late, if construction had occurred in a timely fashion, and where the licensee provided proof of the timely construction.  In this decision, the FCC found that these cases were situations where the late filing was for an insignificant period of time – a few days or weeks at the most, not for the years that went by in the case here.  The late filing, and the fact that, as the construction permit had expired and no license had been granted, the station was deemed to have been operating without authority at the new site, warranted the $7000 fine in the FCC’s opinion.  The case not only serves as a reminder to those with construction permits to file their license applications on time after they complete construction, but also shows that while the FCC may show some flexibility in enforcing its procedural rules, it will not allow licensees to ignore them for long periods.  So be careful to meet the requirements of the rules, or look for big fines from the Commission. 

Continue Reading $7000 Fine for Radio Operator Who Builds Construction Permit But Forgets to File a License Application

Section 312(g) of the Communications Act authorizes the FCC to cancel the license of any broadcast station that has not operated for a full year.   In a recent case, the Commission clarified when it would choose to use that authority to cancel the license of a station that had not been on the air with authorized facilities within that one year period.  In this case, the FCC decided not to cancel the license of a station whose tower was destroyed, where the station came back on the air from the old site but with reduced facilities before the end of the one year period, even though the resumption of operations was initially conducted without FCC authority for the low power operation. The station did, however, ask for Special Temporary Authority to operate with these facilities, authority which was not granted until several weeks after the station had resumed operation.  As the station had requested the authority to resume operations, and had been candid with the FCC about its operations and intentions, the Commission did not cancel the license, but it did fine the station $7000 for operating with unauthorized facilities during the period before the STA was granted.

The decision distinguished the actions of the licensee here with that of the licensee in another case, about which we wrote here, where the FCC canceled the license of a station that was forced off the air at its licensed site, and came back on the air just before the end of the one year period from a totally new site where it had no FCC authority, and where it could not get FAA approval for operations.  The Commission stated that the element of deception in the earlier case, with the station coming on the air at a site where it could not get FCC approval as the FAA had refused its operations from the site, was the distinguishing factor which caused that station license to be canceled. 

Continue Reading STA Request Saves Broadcast Station License From Cancellation For Being Off the Air for A Full Year

Last week, we wrote about the FCC fining stations for a number of violations found at the studios of some broadcast stations.  In these same cases, the FCC also found a number of technical violations at the tower sites of some of the same stations.  Issues for which fines were issued included the failure to have an locked fence around an AM station’s tower, the failure of stations to be operating at the power for which they were authorized, and the failure to have a station’s Studio Transmitter Link operating on its licensed frequency.

An issue found in two case was the failure to operate at the power specified on the station’s license.  In one case, an AM station simply seemed to not be switching to its nighttime power – in other words, at sunset, it was not reducing power from the power authorized for its daytime operations.  The second case was one where another AM station was not switching to its nighttime antenna pattern after dark.  In that case, there were apparently issues with the nighttime antenna but, rather than request special temporary authority from the FCC to operate with reduced power until the problem was fixed, the FCC notes that the station apparently just kept operating with its daytime power.  An STA is not difficult to obtain when there is a technical issue (as the FCC does not want stations going dark if it can be avoided), and some effort is made to specify a power that avoids interference to other stations.  So, if faced with technical problems, request authority for operations that are different from those authorized by the station’s license until those problems can be fixed, or risk a fine from the Commission.

Continue Reading FCC Inspections – Transmission Site Fines for Overpower Operation, Unlocked Tower Fences, and Improper STL Operations