Tower Ownership Reporting Strictly Enforced

Posted on August 1st, 2014 by

If you own a tower and it meets certain height or location requirements, the FCC requires you to register the tower and obtain an antenna structure registration number. Registered towers often change ownership during broadcast station sale transactions, but unlike a broadcast license, which requires prior FCC approval of a licensee change, tower ownership can be changed without FCC prior approval, so long as the new owner modifies the registration by filing an ownership change notice.

Sometimes, the owners of newly acquired towers forget to file the ownership change notice after a sale closes. That oversight can result in a fine from the FCC, if discovered.

But what about a simple name change of the tower owner, where ownership does not change? The FCC recently answered that question in the context of issuing a fine for failure to file an ownership change notification. The tower owner in that case was a corporation that had undergone a name change, but no change in owner identity or percentage. It argued that because there was no ownership change, the failure to update the name of the tower owner was not a violation of the FCC’s ownership reporting requirements. The FCC disagreed, noting that Section 17.57 of its rules “requires owners to notify the Commission of any change in ownership information, not only those involving a change of control.”

Have you looked at your tower registration recently? Is the owner name correct? How about the address and phone number? Is the email address still accurate? If any of that information should be different, file an update to the tower registration immediately to avoid the FCC’s strict interpretation of this rule and potential fines.