Tower Owners Fined

Posted on June 30th, 2015 by

In two separate decisions, the FCC assessed $17,000 in fines against two tower owners. In the first, a tower lighting outage that extended for over a week resulted in a fine of $10,000 for the lighting outage and failure to adequately monitor the lighting system. The tower owner conceded that it had failed to do both.

In the second decision, the FCC assessed $7,000 to an AM station tower owner whose engineer left the tower fence gate unlocked so that tower repair crews could access the site and provide repair estimates. The tower owner argued that the violation was not willful or repeated, but the FCC rejected those arguments, noting that the fence had been intentionally left unlocked by a tower owner representative and then remained unsecured for several days after the tower repair crew failed to re-secure the gate. The FCC noted that even inadvertent actions, or actions by third parties do not excuse violations as unintentional, and took the occasion to cite cases where tower owners were fined even when violations were attributable to acts of God.

We rarely make predictions in these pages, but for grins, we’ll try one. Sometime this fall, the FCC will adopt online public file rules for most radio stations, and they’ll be phased in such that stations in the largest markets (who aren’t exempt) will have to transition to online public files by at least mid-2016 in time for the fall elections. After all, the original impetus for radio online public files were so that political files would be more accessible.