Some NALs (Notices of Apparent Liability), Forfeiture Orders, Notices of Violation (NOVs), and Consent Decrees issued by the MB (Media Bureau) or the EB (Enforcement Bureau) are worth taking a look.
Note: Clicking on the NAL amount takes you to the FCC Notice.
Clicking on the cited rule number will take you to the text of the rule.
12/19/14 – 73.2080 – December seems to be the time the EB decides to offers an EEO fine or two (see 12/5/13 and 12/30/11, below) – and iHeart (formerly Clear Channel) seems to be a favorite target of failing to carry out all the parts of the EEO rules. (If you have more than five fulltime employees, this is something you want to know about. Among other things, hiring “walk in” applicants and failing to advertise, incluiding notifying all local organizations that ask for notice7 will get you into trouble.)
This time, iHeart’s Savanna, GA stations were found guilty of violating the EEO rules when hiring new staffers, and received an NALF for $9k. But the big cost, along with the lawyers’ fees, is the requirement that the stations provide the FCC with an annual report for the next three years on what they have done to correct their errors and live by the EEO rules.
12/19/14 – 73.2080 – If one EEO fine is good, two are better reckons the FCC. Davidson Media in Richmond, VA received an NALF for $5k for EEO violations when hiring new staffers. The big sting though, is the requirement that the stations file annual reports for three years detailing how they are now compliant.
12/18/14 – 303(q), 11.35, 17.50, 17.51 – Back in July (7/30/14, below), Pittman Broadcasting received two Memorandum Opinion and Orders totalling $12k for KVOL-AM and WUUU-FM in Lafayette and Franklinton, LA for EAS and overpower violations. The stations put up various excuses which the FCC did not accept, and the fines stick. although reduced by 2/3.
12/17/14 – 301 – Several important points of compliance here. First, if you ever wanted an almost perfect example of “Willful and Repeated,” you will find it in the Forfeiture Order for $25k issued to Four Corners Broadcasting in Durango, CO. The three stations moved their studios and ran STLs from a place one kilometer from its assigned place. After enhancing the fine due to the seven year of action, a reinspection showed continued operations. The stations argued they filed for licenses. The FCC said “no, they were dismissed for cause.” The stations argued they had had an ABIP inspection. The FCC said “sorry, we can inspect and cite any time we are made aware of violations.”
12/16/14 – 73.1125 – A Forfeiture Order for $7k brings to an end the matter of Cochise Broadcasting’s KOMJ in Omaha, NE not having a staffed Main Studio. An additional violation regarding the Public File access was dropped (see 8/1/13, below).
12/10/14 – 11.45 – Another EAS fine for misuse of EAS tones: are your station employees listening? Apparently staff at WTRC-FM in Niles, MI were not. The FCC issued an Order to Pathfinder Communications after arriving at a Consent Decree with the station – and a penalty of $46k, plus initiating a compliance plan. The essence: using EAS tones in an advertisement. Look for future fines/penalties to get more expensive.
12/10/14 – Section 503(b)(5), Section 325(a), 11.45 – This seems to be EAS Week at the EB. This one is interesting because it involves a non-licensee that has violated the FCC Rules. The Citation to SM Radio states that inserting very brief EAS tones (about two seconds) in a promotional advertisement on the Stephanie Miller Show on Sirirus XM violates the Communications Act of 1934 – including sending what “constitutes a false distress communication“ – and gives notice that the FCC can indeed cite and fine SM Radio with “significant fines” for repetition. If you doubt they are serious (no pun intended), see the item immediately above.
12/9/14 – 11.35 – An EAS receiver must be operating, even when a station is under a CP or PTA. KBXD, Dallas received a Forfeiture Order for $7.2k for failing to have an EAS receiver operational during an inspection. A slight reduction was granted for previous compliance, but the majority of the fine stays.
12/2/14 – 73.1206 – There have been several fines issued, from time to time, to stations that continue to ignore the FCC’s Telephone Broadcast Rule that requires notifying a caller that their conversation will be recorded – before the recording begins. The Commission continues to escalate fines related to this practice. This week KTVX-DT in Salt Lake City received an Order for $35k for broadcasting a recording twice. It did not help that the station did not respond to the FCC when directed.
11/18/14 – 73.3539, 73.3526 – Fiesta Radio, currently in the process of selling KAZA, Gilroy, CA, received a Memorandum Opinion and Order and an NALF for $18k for two late renewals (2005 and 2013) and Public Information File violations. Responses that employees were not familiar with the process were rejected.
10/14/14 – Section 301, 1.903, and 1.947 – The FCC does not like unauthorized operation. That is one reason you see the periodic fines against pirates. Midessa )TX) Television LP got an NALF for $86.4k for operating three broadcast auxiliary services (BAS) without authorization – and six additional BAS operated at variance from the licenses, some as long as 22 years (!). Turning down a request to reduce the $54k fine, the EB actually increased it by $32.4k due to the seriousness and length of the violations.
10/3/14 – Section 333 – The FCC does not like signal jammers – even on WiFi. Marriott Hotels agreed to a $600,000 Consent Decree to settle complaints that the hotel chain’s Nashville operation at Gaylord Opryland purposely jammed WiFi frequencies to stop ad hoc mobile “hot spots” from working. Marriott admitted to the violation, which was an effort to sell high-priced access (as much as $1000 per device, according to the FCC notice) to convention attendees. The FCC also required a three-year Compliance Program, which includes regular reports to the Commission on their operations.
9/18/14 – 17.50, 73.49 – Equity Communications will have to give up equity to the tune of $30k in Forfeture Orders, as the FCC reaffirms the NALs issued in October 2011 WMID and July 2012 WCMC (see both below) for failure to paint a tower and repair gates and fences. Equity had promised immediate corrections, but the FCC says they have a different concept of immediate – some things were still not corrected according to an inspection seven months later.
9/5/14 – 73.3526 – The FCC reaffirmed the violation at Western Slope’s two stations in Colorade (see 7/10/13, below) for not having complete Public Files. The Forfeiture Order for $20k, effectively reversed the original fine’s augmentation, noting the station did make some efforts to comply but it was after the fact and did not change the fact that the files were missing at the time of inspection.
8/29/14 – 301, 1.903 – M.J. Phillips Communications has a studio for WJJL in West Seneca NY. Unfortunately, their STL (WHB714) has been licensed for many years to a site in Niagra Falls, just over 24 miles away. The FCC responded to a complaint in 2013 and issued an NOV. The station acknowledged the problem and said it would resolve it. However, over seven months later, the Field Agents found the station had not complied The Commission hiked the fine by $2.4k due to the “willful and repeated” violations. Hence the NAL for $6.4k and a requirement that the station report in 30 days as to how they have come into compliance.
8/28/14 – 303(q), 17.47, 17.56 – A Forfeiture Order for $7.5k issued to Telava Wireless in Fordsville KY, is a reminder that the FCC takes seriously any failure to monitor and/or rapidly care for tower light outages. In this case, the Commission did reduce the fine from $17k in response to a plea of inability to pay – but just as with the new policy in dealing with student run stations, makes it clear that a repetition of the violation will not be dealt with so leniently.
8/22/14 – 301, – The FCC has been in an “understanding” mode this month, modifying or waiving fines for some situations. KTZZ in Conrad, MT was running an STL without a license (7/24/13, below). When the FCC cited the owner, she pleaded poverty. The Field Agent did report that KTZZ stopped the unauthorized transmissions. The Order reminds the station that such leniency may not be granted in future.
8/13/13 – 73.3527 – Cazenovia (NY) College’s WITC was the benficiary of the FCC’s recent William Penn University Policy: a student-run station can be let off easy for a first-time violation of certain rules. In this case, WITC will donate $1k to the US Treasury and devise a complaince program to prevent re-occurance of their Public File violations.
8/5/14 – 17.57 – It is important during a transfer to make sure all the necessary paperwork is done. That includes changing the ownership information on the ASRN (tower registration). Alpha & Omega Communications did not do this for their West Valley, UT tower, incurring a Forfeiture Order for $2.4k (marked down 20%).
7/30/14 – 303(q), 11.35, 17.50, 17.51 – Pittman Broadcasting received two Forfeiture Orders totalling $36.5k for KVOL-AM and WUUU-FM in Lafayette and Franklinton, LA. The fines stem from a series of EAS and over-powerviolations (see 5/30/13, below). While the stations claimed inability to pay, the FCC declined to reduce the fines, although the $15k fine for KVOL was reduced to $14k somewhere along the line.
7/29/14 – 1.1310, 73.1560 – The owner of KGNT, Smithfield, UT received a Forfeiture Order for $9.2k, marked down from $14k. The company, Frandsen Media, claimed that the violations, for excessive RFR in public areas and running the transmitter ERP at 156%, should be reduced or cancelled due to vandalism at the site. The FCC responded that the station apparently knew of the issue since 2005, but not inspected the site for five months prior to their inspection.
6/26/14 – 73.49 – You will note the FCC is a bit frustrated with Birach Broadcasting. After several cases where fines were issued for inadequate tower fencing – and $27k in fines – Birach acknowledged it knew the fences at WWCS in Cannonburg, PA needed repairs. The fine was augmented to an NALF for $12k – now $39k in tower fence related fines – and an order for the company to report on all their towers and the status of the fencing.
6/19/14 – 303(q), 17.23, 17.48 – Many stations have de-lit a tower or three and saved a lot of money – there are many cases where the lighting consumes more power than the transmitter! However, to de-light a tower requires permission from the FCC, even if the FAA says it is OK. Duhamel Broadcasting in Rapid CIty, SD just received an NALF for $10k – and is required to turn the lights back on, even though they had been off for eight years.
6/19/14 – – 301, 333, 302, 2.803, 2.805, 2.807, 15.1(c), 15.3(o), and 15.201 (and maybe the kitchen sink, too) – The FCC has previously fined companies that make signal jammers, as well as users, but this is planned to be the largest fine ever issued by the Commission: $34.9 million. Of course, the big question is whether the FCC can collect from CTS, a Chinese company that sells the units on the Internet. FCC personnel bought 10 of them, to be test, and the result is a demand to stop making and selling the units, and to provide a list of who bought them. Again, the big question is whether the FCC can actually enforce this one.
6/9/14 – 17.50 – Failure to maintain lighting exposed another violation at two towers: failure to conform to the terms of authorization. The NAL for $10k pointed out that the tower’s ASR authorization specified painting the tower. In fact, the tower owner, Dalrymple Realty in Elmira, NY had installed white lights ten years ago but not kept the paint up to date. When the obstruction light failed in July 2013, no NOTAM was filed and agents discovered the variation. The other NAL for $15K was assessed against Northeast Passage Corp, in Hightstown, NJ.
6/9/14 – 73.3526 – Vision Latina in Port Neches, TX dodged at $25k fine due to poor finances. (see 4/2/12 below) The FCC had previous reduced it to $500, but will now settle for an admonishment to the former operators of KBPO.
6/9/14 – 11.35 – A reduction from $10k to a Forfeiture Order of $6k was won by WWRR in Scranton, PA. The initial violation was (see 1/31/11, below), that alhough EAS gear was on order at one station it did not have a working unit nor were tests being run when inspected. The fact the EAS unit was on order, plus a good reputation got the $4k reduction.
6/4/14 – 73.3526 – When 24 Issues & Program lists are not in the Public File, the FCC considers that a fairly bad move, and therefore an NAL for $10k was issued to WMMG in Brandenburg, KY. In reply, the station made an argument they should not have: Claiming a history of compliance that was … erm … not a history of compliance.
6/3/14 – 73.49 – Lock the gate! The FCC rule is that there mus be “an effective locked fence” around an AM tower. The engineer for WENY in Southport, NY left the gate unlocked for six days before an FCC agent discovered the problem. Ka-Ching: the NAL for $7k was issued to Sound Communications, the owner.
6/3/14 – 303(q), 17.47, 17.51 – The KAGM-FM Joint Partnership in Strasburg, CO ducked a $15k NAL for failing to light their tower and properly monitor and log observations. In an unusual resolution, the FCC dropped the fine and put an Admonishment int he station file. This after an agent discovered the outage nearly four months after power was disconnected due to non-payment of the electric bill.
5/28/14 – 73.1745 – All it takes is a relatively minor error in programming a remote control to cause big problems. An NAL for $6k was issued to WIFI in Florence, NJ, for running day power until 10:30PM. The Real Life Broadcasting station was observed to have had no field intensity changes after sunset. Ka-ching. The thing is, not only did the field agents discover the station had programmed the computer to change power at 10:30PM, two hours after sunset, but this station was cited for similar violation in 2009. Add $2k to the $4k base fine.
4/29/14 – 301, 333, 302, 2.803, 2.805, 2.807, 15.1(c), 15.3(o), and 15.201 – You will probably admit that you would love to have a cell phone jammer – especially every time you get cut off or are nearly the victim of a crash and see the other driver is talking on a cell phone. Unfortunately the FCC is not sympathetic and tossed a litany of technical violations, issuing an NAL for $48k to Jason Humphries, in Seffner, FL, for running a cell jammer for almost two years, PLUS emphasizing the point by issuing a Public Notice.
4/28/14 – 73.1125, 73.1225, 73.1350 – $89,200. That is the fine issued in an NALF to WPHA-CD, Philadelphia. The D.T.V, LLC-owned station received the full ire of the FCC, not just for operating at an unauthorized site, not just for violating the Main Studio rules, but for refusing FCC Field Agents access to the facility on several occasions. Leaving FCC agents outside locked gates and telling them to come back later is not a good idea. In fact, the FCC said: “This is simply unacceptable.” (Thanks, Tim Sawyer)
4/17/14 – 73.3527 – The FCC Order affirmed the NAL for $10k to WTXR, Toccoa Falls College in Georgia (see 5/12/12 below). However, the FCC exercised its relatively new policy of giving NCEFM stations a break under some circumstances, where students were involved and money an issue. The fine was changed to a $1k donation to the Treasury and a compliance program. WTXR (and similar stations) are urged the break is not to be “expected.”
4/4/14 – 73.3539 – Failure to file the License Renewal application on time brought an NALF for $7k to DWBRY in Woodbury, TN (the “D” in the call sign means deleted). The station did not pay the renewal fee on time, hence the Renewal Application was dismissed. Because the station moved to correct matters as soon as the FCC inquired, the fine was reduced by $6k and reinstatment/renewal of the license will be allowed.
3/27/14 – Sections 301, 302(b), 333, 2.805(a), and 15.1(c) – Not strictly broadcast, but this highlights Part 15 and other issues: R&N Manufacturing in Houston, TX received an NALF for $29,250 for the use of a cellphone jammer to prevent employees from using their cellphones while at work. The Commission takes a dim view of this, but allowed a 25% reductionin the fine (from $39k) because R&N surrendured the jamming transmitter.
3/21/14 – 73.49 – The cowboy song might beg “Don’t Fence Me In,” but the FCC requires sufficient fencing aound towers. WDJZ in Bridgeport, CT, received an NALF for $10k, due to poor/missing fences around its three towers. Unfortunately for WDJZ, when field agents returned over a year later, the fences were still not repaired, which added $3k to the base fine of #7k.
3/21/14 – 73.1216 – Failure to conduct a contest according to announced terms resulted in an $8k NALF being issued to South Central Communications’ stations in and around Evansville, IN. As the contest was conducted over four stations, the FCC decided to double the fine to $8k. Another station, WEJK in Boonville, IN, programmed by South Central, also received their own $4k NALF.
3/11/14 – A Part 15 NALF for $25k indicates the FCC is responding to complaints. This one is also in the 900 MHz band, suggesting the complainants might be cellular companies (similar to the LTE complaints). In any event, the key to this one is a previous complaint and warning from the FCC. The new complaint got a pair of $10k fines and $5k for ignoring the warning.
3/5/14 – 73.3526 – Public File violations brought a very cold day to Icicle Broadcasting: the message was in NALs for $46k to four Icicle stations, KOHO-FM, Leavenworth, WA, KOSI(AM), Chelan, WA, KOSI-FM, Chelan, WA, and KZAL, Manson, WA. The normal $10k fine was enhanced for three stations due to the length of the violations. And, if that were not enough, the cold enforcement wakeup shower continued: License renewals for four years, half the normal span.
3/3/14 – 11.45 – OK, one more time: it is illegal to use EAS tones for anything but EAS activations. No movie trailers, no news reports, no silliness. The FCC is not amused. This NAL for $1.9 million to Disney, Viacom, and NBCUniversal push off all excuses – including weasel-wording from lawyers saying it was not “transmitted,” or it was not false, or it was “obvious.” Broadcasters, cable networks, anyone who transmits or causes to be transmitted the EAS tones will find themselves in hot water. That is the FCC’s strong message. Got it?
2/27/14 – 303(q), 17.47, 17.48, 17.51 – Kemp Broadcasting received an NALF for $14k for repeated lighting violations on their Moapa, NV tower. The fine was increased 40% because of repeated failure to call the FCC for a NOTAM and the six month delay in making repairs. The FCC agents were also unimpressed that the visual inspection was usually done “twice a month.”
2/20/14 – A couple in Austin, Texas have tried a novel approach to avoiding the FCC’s Regulations and a fine for operating an unlicensed station: Texas is not part of the US. While many observers might tend to agree with the basic sentiment, the FCC was not amused at Walter Olenick and Rae Nadler-Olenick’s demand that they see a treaty between Texas and the International Bureau. An NALF for $15k is the result. However, it is likely this is not over.
2/20/14 – 73.1125, 73.3526 – The Commission’s response is in, after Cochise Broadcasting’s excuses for why a field agent was unable to locate a Main Studio no Public Files for KOMJ in Omaha, NE (See 8/1/13) below. The NALF for $17k notes that it takes personnel and equipment to equal a Main Studio and leaving a message on a phone answering machine in another state does not meet the requirement for Public Files to be available during business hours.
2/10/14 – 73.1212 – Almost exactly two years after getting the NAL for $44k, Cumulus’ WLS in Chicago got a Forfeiture Order for failure to properly identify advertisements. The 11 misleading announcements (see 2/6/12 below) were tagged for $4k each. The news report cum advertisement is quoted in the FO, which was issued while WLS was owned by Citadel. None of the appeals or excuses (“it was inadvertent employee errors”) to moderate the fine were deemed acceptable.
2/7/14 – 73.3526 – Pacific Empire Radio Corporation in La Grande, OR netted a $25k Forfeiture Order from the FCC for Public File violations. The fine, originally assessed 5/22/12 (see below) was reduced from $50k, but the company appealed, wanting a further reduction or wavier. The FCC declined and affirmed the fine.
2/7/14 – 11.35 – A TV station in Ogden, UT received an NALF for $9k for failure to have an operating EAS receiver and logs. The station, KPNZ, operated from a Main Studio in Salt Lake City, but had a Master Control in Burbank, CA. With all the logistics, they never ensured the EAS operated properly, hence the fine.
2/5/14 – 73.3527 – Northeastern Illinois University receceived a $9k reduction from the $10k fine for failure to have all the Issues & Programs items in the Public File. The NAL for $1k refected the fact that WZRD was honest and straightforward with the FCC, and had a reasonably credible excuse for part of the problem.
2/5/14 – Steckline Communications received Forfeiture Orders for $42k today, bringing to an end (for now) the violations originally noted on 12/14/12 (see below for the long list of violations). The usual run of appeals and excuses did not find favor at the FCC, so the NAL is now a Forfeiture Order.
2/3/14 – 73.3526 – Yes, there were Public File items missing, but the major issue the FCC found in issuing an NALF for $4k and short term renewal (only two years) to KOME-FM in Meridian, TX, was that the station was silent for nearly half its existence, coming on for only short periods of time to avoid 12 consecutive months of silence. The FCC notes “it is clear to us that Licensee’s conduct has fallen far short of that which would warrent routine license renewal.” This is intended as a warning to stations that pretend to serve a community but pop on the air for only a few hours a year; their licenses are not secure.
1/29/14 – You have likely often heard how important it is to tell the FCC the truth, what you did and when you did it. Evidence that it is not a good idea to try to “fudge” facts is shown by a footnote in an NALF for $10k issued to Omaha Dirt and Wire in Omaha, NE. The footnote (#6) notes that agents in Kansas City, MO used Google Earth to verify that the tower actually had been repainted. The fine stood because the station did not repaint until it was inspected. (Warning: this procedure might also yield other “remote inspections” for fencing, etc.)
1/28/14 – 1.89 – Perhaps you wonder why Onda Mexicana has been issued an NALF for $8k (the fine was doubled) for repeatedly not responding to Commission requests for information and explanation. WWFL in Clermont, FL still needs to answer for a litany of violations, ranging from lack of proper fencing, lack of station log, lack of Public File, lack of Chief Operator, lack of EPM, and studio location not as authorized. The owner claims he eventually responded to the Tampa office, but the FCC says it was not complete and not sent where he was told to respond. This matter will continue. Cue the lawyers!
1/24/14 – 11.35 – An LPFM in Greenville, TX was granted a $2k reduction and a Forfeiture Order for $5k after having been cited for not having an operating EAS machine in 2012. The Iglesia Cristiana Ebenezer’s KYLP-LP did order and install an EAS, but the violation stands, as does the warning that a reduction this time does not mean a future reduction will be permitted.
1/23/14 – 73.49 – Two in two weeks – maybe it is time to check your fences? Birach Broadcasting received this NAL for $10k for its WTOR operation in Youngstown, NY. The Field Agent found the towers were not secure, one gate completely removed and laying on the ground, foliage growing through the fences, several in really bad shape, and missing significant sections. The normal $7k fine was increased to $10k because Birach had previously been cited for a similar violation.
1/16/14 – 73.49 – Failure to maintain an effective locked fence around AM towers brought an NALF for $7k to the Catholic Church, licensee of WKVM in San Juan, PR. The fence, said to be damaged in a storm six months before the field agent’s inspection, was missing sections, as was the fence around the entire property.
1/15/14 – 11.45 – If your staff has not gotten the message as yet, the FCC has “had enough” of the misuse of EAS tones in advertisements – wherever they are, not just over the air. Today an NAL for $200k was issued to Turner Networks for running 14 advertisements with EAS tones in them during a six-day period in 2013 – despite assurances from an earlier violation that procedures would change. The Public Notice issued at the same time makes it clear, this is not going to be a “we forgot” or “sorry, our mistake” issue any longer.
1/10/14 – 73.3527 – Pacifica Foundation’s KPFK in Los Angeles netted at $1k fine in the NAL for Forfeiture after admitting on their Renewal Application that they had missed filing four of the Issues & Programs Lists.
1/9/14 – 73.1745 – The FCC issued a Forfeiture Order to close the account with KPIO in Loveland, CO. Back in 2011 (See 10/31/11 below), the Commission found the Catholic Radio Network station operating above its authorized power. Although it did not accept the excuse of malfunctioning equipment, the $4k fine was reduced to $3.2k
1/8/14 – 73.3526 – Excuses. In June 2011, WLSW, Scottdale, PA was tagged with an NAL for $15k for missing ll their quarterly Issues & Programs lists. Originally, the station claimed that “a person or persons had gone through the file and that some items had been removed…. ” The station committed to replacing or constructing new files to replace the missing ones. A followup inspection revealed – surprise – that there were no Issues & Programs lists. This time “the snow ate it” and/or the files were in storage somewhere else. The FCC was not persuaded, although they did reduce the file – this time only – to $7500.