Low Power & Class A Television Category
Posted June 20, 2014
With the heat of Summer now upon us, the FCC is gearing up for its annual regulatory fee filing window, which usually occurs in mid-September. Like other federal agencies, the FCC must raise funds to pay for its operations ("to recover the costs of... enforcement activities, policy and rulemaking activities, user information services, and international activities."). For Fiscal Year 2014, Congress has, for the third year in a row, mandated that the FCC collect $339,844,000.00 from its regulatees.
Accordingly, the FCC is now tasked with determining how to meet the Congressional mandate. At its most basic level, the FCC employs a formula that breaks down the cost of its employees by "core" bureaus, taking into consideration which employees are considered "direct" (working for one of the four core bureaus), or "indirect" (working for other divisions, including but not limited to, the Enforcement Bureau and the Chairman's and Commissioners' offices). The FCC factors in the number of regulatees serviced by each division, and then determines how much each regulatee is obligated to pay so that the FCC can collect the $339M total.
In its quest to meet the annual congressional mandate, the FCC evaluates and, for various reasons, tweaks the definitions or qualifications of its regulatee categories to, most often, increase certain regulatory fee obligations. FY 2014 is just such an occasion. In FY 2013, the FCC, which historically has imposed drastically different fees for VHF and UHF television licensees, decided that, effective this year, FY 2014, VHF and UHF stations would be required to pay the same regulatory fees. In addition, a new class of contributing regulatees, providers of Internet Protocol TV ("IPTV"), was established and is now subject to the same regulatory fees levied upon cable television providers. Prior to FY 2014, IPTV providers were not subject to regulatory fees.
The FCC's proposals for FY 2014 regulatory fees can be found in its Order and Second NPRM ("Order"). In that Order, the FCC proposes the following FY 2014 commercial VHF/UHF digital TV regulatory fees:
- Markets 1-10 - $44,875
- Markets 11-25 - $42,300
- Markets 26-50 - $27,100
- Markets 51-100 - $15,675
- Remaining Markets - $4,775
- Construction Permits - $4,775
- Satellite Television Stations (All Markets) - $1,550
- Construction Permits for Satellite Television Stations - $1,325
- Low Power TV, Class A TV, TV Translators & Boosters - $410
- Broadcast Auxiliaries - $10
- Earth Stations - $245
- With a population less than or equal to 25,000 - $775
- With a population from 25,001-75,000 - $1,550
- With a population from 75,001-150,000 - $2,325
- With a population from 150,001-500,000 - $3,475
- With a population from 500,001-1,200,000 - $5,025
- With a population from 1,200,001-3,000,000 - $7,750
- With a population greater than 3,000,000 - $9,300
- With a population less than or equal to 25,000 - $645
- With a population from 25,001-75,000 - $1,300
- With a population from 75,001-150,000 - $1,625
- With a population from 150,001-500,000 - $2,750
- With a population from 500,001-1,200,000 - $4,225
- With a population from 1,200,001-3,000,000 - $6,500
- With a population greater than 3,000,000 - $7,800
- With a population less than or equal to 25,000 - $590
- With a population from 25,001-75,000 - $900
- With a population from 75,001-150,000 - $1,200
- With a population from 150,001-500,000 - $1,800
- With a population from 500,001-1,200,000 - $3,000
- With a population from 1,200,001-3,000,000 - $4,500
- With a population greater than 3,000,000 - $5,700
- With a population less than or equal to 25,000 - $670
- With a population from 25,001-75,000 - $1,000
- With a population from 75,001-150,000 - $1,675
- With a population from 150,001-500,000 - $2,025
- With a population from 500,001-1,200,000 - $3,375
- With a population from 1,200,001-3,000,000 - $5,400
- With a population greater than 3,000,000 - $6,750
- With a population less than or equal to 25,000 - $750
- With a population from 25,001-75,000 - $1,500
- With a population from 75,001-150,000 - $2,050
- With a population from 150,001-500,000 - $3,175
- With a population from 500,001-1,200,000 - $5,050
- With a population from 1,200,001-3,000,000 - $8,250
- With a population greater than 3,000,000 - $10,500
- With a population less than or equal to 25,000 - $925
- With a population from 25,001-75,000 - $1,625
- With a population from 75,001-150,000 - $3,000
- With a population from 150,001-500,000 - $3,925
- With a population from 500,001-1,200,000 - $5,775
- With a population from 1,200,001-3,000,000 - $9,250
- With a population greater than 3,000,000 - $12,025
Posted June 12, 2014
Surprise, surprise, the FCC has instituted yet another application filing freeze! The FCC effectively said "enough is enough" and stopped accepting applications for LPTV channel displacements and new digital replacement translators.
Yesterday, the FCC released a Public Notice indicating that, effective June 11, 2014, the Media Bureau would cease to accept applications seeking new digital replacement translator stations and LPTV, TV translator, and Class A TV channel displacements. The FCC did provide that in certain "rare cases", a waiver of the freeze may be sought on a case-by-case basis, and that the Media Bureau will continue to process minor change, digital flash cut, and digital companion channel applications filed by existing LPTV and TV translator stations.
According to industry sources, there have been grumblings at the FCC that low power television broadcasters have been using the digital replacement translator and LPTV displacement processes to better position themselves from the fallout of the upcoming spectrum auction and subsequent channel repacking. That appears to be confirmed by the Public Notice, as it states that the freeze is necessary to "to protect the opportunity for stations displaced by the repacking of the television bands to obtain a new channel from the limited number of channels likely to be available for application after repacking...." Setting aside the freeze itself for a moment, it seems clear from this statement that the FCC has no illusions that there will be room in the repacked spectrum for all existing low power television stations.
While there have been myriad FCC application freezes over the years, they have been occurring with increasing frequency. From the radio perspective, absent a waiver, extraordinary circumstances, or an FCC-announced "filing window", all opportunities to seek a new radio license (full-power, low power FM or translator) have been quashed for some time now.
The first notable television freeze occurred in 1948 and lasted four years. The FCC instituted a freeze on all new analog television stations applications in 1996. In furtherance of the transition to digital television, the FCC instituted a freeze on changes to television channel allotments which lasted from 2004 to 2008. In 2010, the FCC froze LPTV and TV translator applications for major changes and new stations; a freeze which remains in effect today.
Yet another freeze on TV channel changes was imposed in 2011 in order to, among other things, "consider methodologies for repacking television channels to increase the efficiency of channel use." And as Scott Flick wrote here last year, still another television application freeze on full power and Class A modifications was launched on April 5, 2013. That freeze remains in effect and effectively cuts off all opportunities for existing full-power or Class A television stations to expand their signal contours to increase service to the public. The volume of application freezes has grown to such an extent that it is difficult to keep track of them all.
In terms of reasoning, yesterday's Public Notice indicated that since the DTV transition occurred five years ago, the impact of the instant freeze would be "minimal" since transmission and contour issues should have been addressed as part of, or generally following, that transition. The Notice proceeded to say that LPTV displacement and digital replacement applications were necessary after the DTV transition, and up to the FCC's April 2013 filing freeze, for purposes of resolving "technical problems" associated with the build-out of full-power DTV stations, but that since there have been no "changes" to those service areas because of the last freeze, there should be no need for LPTV channel displacements or digital replacement translators.
Left out in the cold by these cascading freezes are broadcast equipment manufacturers and tower crews. As previously noted by numerous broadcasters and the NAB, the FCC's frosty view of just about every form of station modification is effectively driving out of business the very vendors and equipment installers that are critical to implementing the FCC's planned channel repacking after the spectrum auction. As we learned during the DTV transition, the size and number of vendors and qualified installers of transmission and tower equipment is very limited and, given the skills required, can't be increased quickly. Driving these businesses to shrink for lack of modification projects in their now-frozen pipelines threatens to also leave the channel repacking out in the cold.
Posted May 15, 2014
Earlier today, the FCC held its monthly Open Meeting, where it adopted rules to implement the Broadcast Television Incentive Auction.You can watch a replay of the FCC's Open Meeting on the FCC's website.
Thus far, the FCC has released three documents relating to the actions it took today in this proceeding, as well as separate statements from four of the five commissioners, providing at least some initial guidance to affected parties: (1) a News Release, (2) a summary of upcoming proceedings, and (3) a staff summary of the Report & Order.
At the meeting, the commissioners noted that, when released, the Report and Order will contain a number of rule changes to implement the auction. The major takeaways are:
- The reorganized 600 MHz Band will consist of paired uplink and downlink bands, with the uplink bands starting at channel 51 and expanding downwards, followed by a duplex gap and then the downlink band;
- These bands will be comprised of five megahertz "building blocks", with the Commission contemplating variations in the amount of spectrum recovered from one market to the next, meaning that not all spectrum will be cleared on a nationwide basis, and in some markets, repacked broadcasters will be sharing spectrum with wireless providers in adjacent markets;
- The FCC anticipates there will be at least one naturally occurring white space channel in each market for use after the auction by unlicensed devices and wireless microphones;
- The auction will have a staged structure, with a reverse auction and forward auction component in each stage. In the reverse auction, broadcasters may voluntarily choose to relinquish some or all of their spectrum usage rights, and in the forward auction, wireless providers can bid on the relinquished spectrum;
- In the reverse auction, participating broadcasters can agree to accept compensation for (1) relinquishing their channel, (2) sharing a channel with another broadcaster, or (3) moving from UHF to VHF (or moving from high VHF to low VHF);
- The FCC will "score" stations (presumably based on population coverage, etc.) to set opening prices in the auction;
- The FCC will use a descending clock format for the reverse auction, in which it will start with an opening bid and then reduce the amount offered for spectrum in each subsequent round until the amount of broadcast spectrum being offered drops to an amount consistent with what is being sought in the forward auction;
- The auction will also incorporate "Dynamic Reserve Pricing", permitting the FCC to reduce the amount paid to a bidding station if it believes there was insufficient auction competition between stations in that market;
- The rules will require repurposed spectrum to be cleared by specific dates to be set by the Media Bureau, which can, even with an extension, be no later than 39 months after the repacking process becomes effective;
- The FCC will grandfather existing broadcast station combinations that would otherwise not comply with media ownership rules as a result of the auction; and
- The FCC continues to intend to use its TVStudy software to determine whether a repacked station's population coverage will be reduced in the repacking process, despite NAB's earlier protests that the current version of the software would result in reduced coverage for nine out of ten stations in the country.
Although today's Open Meeting and these preliminary documents provide some guidance on many complex incentive auction issues, they only scratch the surface, and there are many blanks the FCC will need to fill in between now and the auction. One of those that broadcasters will be watching very carefully is how the Media Bureau will be handling reimbursement of stations' repacking expenses. That has turned out to be a very challenging issue in past FCC efforts at repurposing spectrum, and the fact that the amount set aside by Congress for reimbursement might well fall short of what is needed has many broadcasters concerned.
We will know more about this and many other issues when the Report and Order is released, hopefully in the next week or two, but the real answers are going to reveal themselves only very slowly over the next year or two. The FCC has to hope that they will still have broadcasters' attention by the time we reach that point.
Posted May 2, 2014
The FCC just gave broadcasters another reason to answer the door graciously. Earlier this week, the FCC whacked a Pennsylvania Class A Television broadcaster with an $89,200 Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) for refusing to allow FCC inspectors to inspect the station's facilities, not just once, but on three different occasions. It is rare to see the FCC show its irritation in an NAL, but the language used by the FCC in this particular NAL leaves no doubt that the Commission was not happy with the licensee, particularly with what the FCC believed was blatant disregard for its authority. As the FCC put it, "this is simply unacceptable."
Regarding specific rule violations by the licensee, the FCC alleged violations of Section 73.1225(a), which requires a broadcaster to make its station available for inspection by the FCC during normal business hours or at any time of operation; Section 73.1125(a), which requires a broadcaster to maintain a main studio location staffed with at least two employees during regular business hours; and Section 73.1350(a), which requires a broadcaster to operate its station in compliance with the FCC's technical rules and in accordance with its current station authorization.
The NAL indicated that local field agents from the Enforcement Bureau's Philadelphia Office attempted a station inspection during regular business hours once on August 17, 2011, and twice on September 30, 2011, without success. Physical access to the main studio of record was blocked by a locked gate.
After calling the station, the field agents were met at the locked gate by the station manager, who indicated that he was on his way to a doctor's appointment, that no one else was available at the station to facilitate an inspection, and that the field agents would have to return the next day in order to gain access to the station. After leaving the site of the main studio, one field agent attempted to call the sole principal of the licensee but was forced to leave a voicemail requesting that the owner return the call to discuss the inaccessibility of the main studio. The field agent also called the main studio and left a voicemail. The call was later returned by the station manager, who indicated that he was still at his doctor's appointment. According to the NAL, the agent identified the caller ID number on the returned call as being that of the main studio. When questioned about it, the station manager indicated "that the Station used his personal cellular number as the Station's main studio number."
On the second inspection attempt, the field agents again encountered the locked gate. The station manager, who met them at the gate, asked the field agents to wait outside the gate until he returned from the main studio building. The field agents left "after waiting more than ten minutes for the Station Manager to return...." The field agents returned later that day and once again encountered the locked gate. An agent called the main studio and spoke to the station manager, who indicated that, the "gate must remain locked for security reasons and that the public must contact the station to obtain access." The field agents noted that there was no signage or other information posted at the locked gate to indicate such a requirement.
After their departure, one of the agents again attempted to contact the station owner in order to discuss the inaccessibility of the main studio. The agent was forced to leave a second voicemail, reiterating his request for a return call. Neither call was returned by the owner.
In March 2012, a local field agent determined that, after monitoring the station's transmissions, the station was operating from a tower structure that was not specified in its current authorization. The agent, with the collaboration of the tower owner, determined that the station was operating from a tower approximately two-tenths of a mile away from its authorized transmitter site. Both towers were owned by the same tower company.
The NAL noted that the FCC has previously fined broadcasters for failure to provide access for inspection, but that "none of those cases involved repeated, direct, in-person refusals of access by the highest level of a broadcast station's management, as well as multiple failures by the licensee's sole principal to return FCC agent calls concerning the refusals." The NAL also stated that, "continued refusal...is an egregious violation of the Commission's rules warranting stringent enforcement action." These events led to the maximum fine of $37,500 for each day the field agents were refused access. The $75,000 was then added to the fines for the main studio and unauthorized operation violations. The main studio base forfeiture is $7,000. The unauthorized operation base forfeiture is $4000, but the FCC elected to upwardly adjust that amount by another $3200. At the end of the day, the licensee was assessed a fine of $89,200.
In hindsight, it seems very unlikely that, even had the station been in a state of disarray or total chaos, any potential fine from the FCC could have exceeded the nearly $90,000 fine the licensee instead received for refusing access.
The obvious lesson learned here if is that if the FCC comes knocking at your door, let them in.
Client Alert: All Class A and Full-Power Television Stations Must Comply with Online Political File Requirements as of July 1, 2014
Posted May 1, 2014
Class A and Full-Power Television Broadcasters in All Markets Regardless of Network Affiliation and Market Rank Must Comply with the Online Retention of Political Programming Materials as of July 1, 2014
The FCC recently published in the Federal Register a reminder that all Class A and full-power television broadcasters must, by July 1, 2014, begin maintaining new political advertising materials mandated by Section 73.1943 of the Commission's Rules in the station's online public inspection file.
As previously reported, pursuant to the FCC's Second Report and Order ("R&O"), adopted in May 2012, Class A and full-power television stations affiliated with the top four networks in the top 50 Designated Market Areas ("DMAs") have been required to comply with the online political file rule since August 2, 2012.
The R&O stayed the online political file requirement for all Class A and full-power television stations that are not a top four network station in the top 50 DMAs until July 1, 2014. Accordingly, from July 1, 2014 forward, all stations, regardless of network affiliation or DMA, must begin keeping their political file in their online public inspection file. Notably, while political advertising documents created on or after July 1, 2014 must be placed in the online public file, stations should continue to retain hard copies of pre-July 1, 2014 documents in their physical public file to comply with the two-year retention period for political file documents set forth in Section 73.3526(e)(6).
The Federal Register notice can be viewed here.
A pdf version of this article can be found at Client Alert.
Posted April 10, 2014
Commercial full-power and Class A television stations must by this date electronically file FCC Form 398 demonstrating their responsiveness to "the educational and informational needs of children" for the period January 1, 2014 through March 31, 2014, and ensure a copy of the form as filed with the FCC is in the station's public inspection file.
Posted April 10, 2014
Commercial full-power and Class A television stations must place in their public inspection files by this date records "sufficient to verify compliance" with the FCC's commercial time limitations in children's programming broadcast during the period January 1, 2014 through March 31, 2014.
Posted April 10, 2014
All full-power radio, full-power television, and Class A television stations must place in their public inspection files by this date the Quarterly Issues/Programs List covering the period January 1, 2014 through March 31, 2014.
Posted April 1, 2014
Full-power television stations and Class A television stations, as well as LPTV stations capable of local origination, licensed to communities in Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, or Wyoming must on this date begin to air their pre-filing renewal announcements in accordance with the FCC's regulations. Additional announcements must air on April 16, May 1 and May 16.
Posted April 1, 2014
Full-power AM and FM radio stations and LPFM stations licensed to communities in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and full-power television stations and Class A television stations, as well as LPTV stations capable of local origination, licensed to communities in Texas, must begin on this date to air their post-filing license renewal announcements in accordance with the FCC's regulations. Additional announcements must air on April 16, May 1, May 16, June 1 and June 16. FM Translator and TV Translator stations, as well as LPTV stations not capable of local origination, licensed to communities in these states must arrange for the required newspaper public notice of their license renewal application filing.
Posted March 18, 2014
Pillsbury's communications lawyers have published FCC Enforcement Monitor monthly since 1999 to inform our clients of notable FCC enforcement actions against FCC license holders and others. This month's issue includes:
- FCC Proposes $40,000 Fine for Public Inspection File/License Renewal Violations
- Short-Term License Renewal and Hefty Fine for Missing QIP Lists
- $5,000 Fine for FM Station's Failure to Maintain Minimum Operating Hours
Late last month, the FCC issued two essentially identical orders against co-owned Milwaukee and Chicago Class A TV stations in response to a number of missing Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists and Children's Television Programming Reports and for not reporting the missing issues/programs lists in the stations' license renewal applications. The FCC's Media Bureau proposed a $20,000 fine against each station, for a total fine of $40,000.
In late December of last year, the FCC issued Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture ("NAL") for the two stations, noting that the stations had mentioned in their license renewal applications that they had failed to timely file numerous Children's Television Programming Reports, but had not disclosed the absence from their online public files of over a dozen (each) Quarterly Issues/Program Lists. Section 73.3526 of the FCC's Rules requires licensees to maintain information about station operations in their public inspection files so the public can obtain "timely information about the station at regular intervals."
The base fine for failure to file a required form is $3,000, and the base fine for public file violations is $10,000. After considering the facts, the FCC concluded in each NAL that the respective station was liable for $9,000 for the missing Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists, $9,000 for the missing Children's Television Programming Reports, and an additional $2,000 for failing to disclose the missing Quarterly Issues/Program Lists in their renewal applications.
After receiving the NALs, each station requested that the fine be reduced due to an inability to pay. The FCC will not consider reducing a fine based on a claimed inability to pay unless the licensee submits federal tax returns for the last three years, financial statements, or other documentation that accurately demonstrates its financial status. In this case, each station submitted appropriate documentation about its financial condition. However, the FCC was not persuaded that the amount of the fines exceeded each station's ability to pay, and declined to reduce the fines.
Public Inspection File Violations Lead to $46,000 in Fines and Limited License Terms
In connection with recent license renewal applications, the FCC issued four essentially identical Memorandum Opinions and Orders and Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, resulting in $46,000 in fines for a Washington radio licensee. In addition, three of the licensee's four stations' license renewal applications were granted for only a four-year term rather than the normal eight-year term.
The first three of the licensee's stations were missing, respectively, 24, 26, and 20 Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists for various periods during the license term. The fourth station's public inspection file was missing 12 reports for a two-year period spanning from 2006 to 2008.
Pre-Filing and Post-Filing License Renewal Announcement Reminder for TV Stations in Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming
Posted March 14, 2014
TV, Class A TV, and locally originating LPTV stations licensed to communities in Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming must begin airing pre-filing license renewal announcements on April 1, 2014. License renewal applications for all TV stations in these states are due by June 2, 2014.
Pre-Filing License Renewal Announcements
Stations in the video services that are licensed to communities in Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming must file their license renewal applications by June 2, 2014 (June 1 being a Sunday).
Beginning two months prior to that filing, full power TV, Class A TV, and LPTV stations capable of local origination must air four pre-filing renewal announcements alerting the public to the upcoming license renewal application filing. These stations must air the first pre-filing announcement on April 1, 2014. The remaining announcements must air on April 16, May 1, and May 16, 2014, for a total of four announcements. A sign board or slide showing the licensee's address and the FCC's Washington DC address must be displayed while the pre-filing announcements are broadcast.
For commercial stations, at least two of these four announcements must air between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific) or 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. (Central/Mountain). Locally-originating LPTV stations must broadcast these announcements as close to the above schedule as their operating schedule permits. Noncommercial stations must air the announcements at the same times as commercial stations, but need not air any announcements in a month in which the station does not operate. A noncommercial station that will not air some announcements because it is off the air must air the remaining announcements as listed above, i.e., the first two must air between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific) or 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. (Central/Mountain).
The text of the pre-filing announcement is as follows:
On [date of last renewal grant], [call letters] was granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission to serve the public interest as a public trustee until October 1, 2014. [Stations which have not received a renewal grant since the filing of their previous renewal application should modify the foregoing to read: "(Call letters) is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to serve the public interest as a public trustee."]
Our license will expire on October 1, 2014. We must file an application for renewal with the FCC by June 2, 2014. When filed, a copy of this application will be available for public inspection at www.fcc.gov. It contains information concerning this station's performance during the last eight years [or other period of time covered by the application, if the station's license term was not a standard eight-year license term].
Individuals who wish to advise the FCC of facts relating to our renewal application and to whether this station has operated in the public interest should file comments and petitions with the Commission by September 1, 2014.
Further information concerning the FCC's broadcast license renewal process is available at [address of location of the station] or may be obtained from the FCC, Washington, DC 20554.
If a station misses airing an announcement, it should broadcast a make-up announcement as soon as possible and contact us to further address the situation. As noted above, special rules apply to noncommercial stations that do not normally operate during any month when their announcements would otherwise be required to air, as well as to other silent stations. These stations should contact us to ensure they give the required public notice.
Article continues -- the full article can be found at Pre-Filing and Post-Filing License Renewal Announcement Reminder
Posted February 26, 2014
Pillsbury's communications lawyers have published FCC Enforcement Monitor monthly since 1999 to inform our clients of notable FCC enforcement actions against FCC license holders and others. This month's issue includes:
- FCC Limits License Renewal to Two Years and Assesses $4,000 Fine
- $24,000 Consent Decree for Incomplete Public Inspection File
- Hotels Cited for Exceeding Signal Leakage Limits in Aeronautical Bands
Station Assessed Fine for Public File Violations and Granted Short-Term License Renewal
In reviewing the license renewal application for a Meridian, Texas radio station, the FCC's Media Bureau proposed a $4,000 fine for public inspection file violations. It also granted the station's license renewal application, but only for a period of two years (rather than the normal eight), based upon the station's extended periods of silence during the prior license term.
Section 73.3526 of the FCC's Rules requires licensees to maintain information about station operations in the station's public inspection file so the public can obtain "timely information about the station at regular intervals." In its license renewal application, the station indicated that it could not locate a number of its quarterly issues-programs lists. The base forfeiture amount for public inspection file violations is $10,000, but the FCC has authority to adjust that amount up or down based on a licensee's circumstances. Here, the FCC noted that "the violations were extensive, occurring over a period of nearly two years and involving at least 6 issues/programs lists." Despite this, the FCC ultimately imposed a forfeiture amount of only $4,000 since the violations were not "evidence of a pattern of abuse."
The station was also dark for lengthy periods during the prior license term. Section 312(g) of the Communications Act prohibits long periods of silence by licensed stations because licensees have an obligation to provide service to the public by broadcasting on their allocated spectrum. When the FCC reviews a station's renewal application, it considers whether the licensee has adequately served its community of license. Section 309(k) of the Communications Act provides that the renewal application should be granted if "(1) the station has served the public interest, convenience and necessity; (2) there have been no serious violations of the Act or the Rules; and (3) there have been no other violations which, taken together, constitute a pattern of abuse." In this case, the FCC pointed out that the licensee had two periods of silence, each lasting nearly a year, and that the station had been dark for almost half of the license term. Since the licensee had failed to provide "public service programming such as news, public affairs, weather information, and Emergency Alert System notifications" during these long periods of inactivity, the FCC determined that granting a renewal of only two years would be the most effective sanction because it would incentivize the licensee to maintain its broadcast operations and not go silent in the future.
License Agrees to Pay $24,000 Under Terms of Consent Decree for Missing Public File Documents
The FCC has entered into a consent decree with an Atlanta LPTV licensee after conducting a lengthy investigation. Almost two years ago, in March of 2012, the FCC sent a letter to the licensee asking for specific information to determine the station's eligibility for Class A television status. The requested information included the location of the main studio, a description of production equipment, names of employees, the location of the public inspection file, a copy of the quarterly issues/programs lists, and a copy of the public inspection file documentation. In its response, submitted in June of 2012, the licensee informed the FCC that the station had been vandalized and provided police reports and other documentation to account for its failure to produce a public inspection file. In another letter dated almost one year after the licensee's explanatory letter, the FCC asked for further clarification from the licensee regarding the location of the station's public inspection file and why the police report did not mention vandalism of the public inspection file. The licensee replied one month later in July of 2013 and provided another police report to explain the theft of equipment.
Posted February 1, 2014
Full-power AM and FM radio stations and LPFM stations licensed to communities in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and full-power television stations and Class A television stations, as well as LPTV stations capable of local origination, licensed to communities in Texas, must on this date begin to air their pre-filing renewal announcements in accordance with the FCC's regulations. Additional announcements must air on February 16, March 1 and March 16.