Even The Little Licenses Can Sting

Posted on August 1st, 2013 by

Many broadcast stations have auxilliary licenses in addition to their main station license, often to assist in transmitting the broadcast signal from the studio to the transmitter site.  These “STL” licenses are automatically renewed with a station’s main license, and although the annual regulatory fees associated with these licenses are very low ($10), the fines for operating a studio-to-transmitter link without a correct license, or a license at all, are not low.  The FCC treats a non-licensed operation the same as any other, and recently did so for a station in Montana that admitted that it did not have a license authorizing operation of its STL.  That resulted in a $10,000 fine.  For any mathematicians out there, that fine is one thousand times the amount of the annual regulatory fee.

We suspect that the station being fined here did something that we’ve seen multiple times.  They bought the STL equipment from a company that promised to install the equipment, and either (i) never mentioned the requirement for FCC licensing, or (ii) mentioned it as included in the price, but then never filed for it.  Of course, there is option three, where the company tells the station owner about the licensing requirement, but it is unclear as to who must take care of that, and it slips through the cracks.

Now is a good time to make sure your STL operation is licensed, and to confirm that the licensed parameters are consistent with your STL operation.  If either is not the case, actions toward compliance should be taken immediately.