Hanging That Radio Frequency Radiation Warning Sign May Not

Posted on August 1st, 2014 by

Nearly three years ago, the FCC fined a Utah broadcaster $14,000, in part for failing to comply with the FCC’s requirement to post signs warning of radio frequency radiation (RFR) exposure at the station’s transmitter site. This month, the FCC reduced the forfeiture to $9,200, but the decision suggests that simply posting RFR warning signs at a transmitter site may not always be enough to demonstrate compliance. That raised our curiosity level. We’ll explain.

In responding to the fine, the station claimed that the transmitter site was vandalized prior to the FCC inspection, and that the RFR signs previously posted at the site were stolen. The argument was a good one, based upon a nearly 30-year-old decision where the FCC cancelled a tower fencing violation based upon licensee-provided evidence of vandalism. The FCC noted its earlier decision, but distinguished it because the broadcaster there had been conducting regularly recurring inspections of the transmitter site, with the last one occurring shortly before the FCC’s inspection. In the Utah case, the station’s last transmitter site inspection had occurred 5 months prior to the FCC inspection. That was too long for the FCC, leaving open the possibility that RFR signage had been missing for some time at the site.

So when it comes to the FCC’s requirement to post RFR warning signs, broadcasters should not simply nail them to a post and forget them. Instead, to make sure that the site is properly posted at all times, someone should be regularly visiting the site to make sure that the signs haven’t been stolen, or haven’t fallen or become dislodged. Add “RFR Signs Posted?” to your transmitter site checklist, and make sure someone visits on a recurring basis (we suggest at least once a month) and documents the status of the signs and other required items at the site.