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 Revokes License for Unpaid Regulatory Fees; Warns Other Stations of Similar Fate
- Texas Station Warned Over Multiple Tower and Transmission Violations
- FCC Nabs Massachusetts Pirate While Commission Continues to Push for Anti-Piracy Legislation
Winter Comes for FM Station With Unpaid Regulatory Fees
The FCC’s Media Bureau published a trio of orders this month relating to the unpaid regulatory fees of three unrelated FM stations. In the most severe case, the Media Bureau revoked the license of a Massachusetts station, ordering it to cease operations immediately. The Bureau also initiated license revocation proceedings for overdue fees from stations in Illinois and Louisiana.
The Communications Act requires the FCC to assess and collect regulatory fees for certain regulated activities, including broadcast radio. The FCC assesses a 25 percent penalty on any late or missing payments. Failure to pay these regulatory fees or related penalties is grounds for license revocation.
The Media Bureau initially sent the Massachusetts licensee several Demand Letters requiring payment of delinquent fees. The licensee did not respond to them. Subsequently, in November 2018, the Media Bureau issued an Order to Pay or to Show Cause, which required the licensee to either pay its overdue fees or demonstrate why it did not owe them. As we discussed at the time, between fiscal years 2014 and 2018, the licensee had accumulated a debt to the FCC of $9,641.73 in unpaid fees and related charges. After the licensee failed to respond to the November Order, the Media Bureau issued a Revocation Order. This “death sentence” terminates the licensee’s authority to operate the station and deletes the station’s call sign from FCC databases.
Shortly after releasing the Revocation Order, the Media Bureau issued two separate Orders to Pay or to Show Cause to the licensees of FM stations in Louisiana and Illinois. According to the Media Bureau, the Louisiana licensee owes the FCC $11,386.77 in regulatory fees, interest, penalties, and other charges for fiscal years 2009, 2011-2014, and 2017, and the Illinois licensee owes $17,296.21 for fiscal years 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013. The Media Bureau had previously sent various notices and Demand Letters to the licensees regarding the overdue amounts without success.
The Louisiana and Illinois licensees each have 60 days in which to submit evidence showing that either full payment has been made, or that payment should be waived or deferred, lest they suffer the same fate as the Massachusetts FM station.
Who Monitors the Monitoring Points? FCC Warns Texas AM Station Over Multiple Tower and Transmission Violations
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a Notice of Violation (“NOV”) against the tower owner and licensee of a Dallas-area AM station for improper tower painting and lighting and for operating at variance from its license. Continue reading →