Pillsbury’s communications lawyers have published the 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:
- Sports Entertainment Company’s Malfunctioning Microphone Interferes with Public Safety Communications
- Florida Radio Application Dismissed Over Disclosure Issues
- Late Issues/Programs Lists and Children’s Television Programming Reports Causes $18,000 Proposed Fine for Maryland Television Station
Notice of Violation Issued After Malfunctioning Wireless Microphone Transmits on Wrong Frequency
A sports entertainment company with dozens of locations across the country received a Notice of Violation from the FCC for causing interference to a city’s licensed wireless operations. FCC field agents investigating interference complaints using direction finding techniques located “drifting” radio emissions in the area and determined that the source was a malfunctioning wireless microphone used by the sports entertainment company in its local operations.
The microphone was causing interference to the city’s 800 MHz communication system, and as noted by the Enforcement Bureau, the sports entertainment company did not hold a license to operate the microphone on that frequency. The city used the 800 MHz facilities for public safety operations, making the interference particularly concerning.
Under the Notice of Violation, the company must respond within twenty days and (1) fully explain each violation, including all relevant surrounding facts and circumstances, (2) include a statement of the specific action(s) taken to correct each violation and prevent recurrence, and (3) include a timeline for completion of any pending corrective action(s). The Notice of Violation also indicated the possibility of further enforcement action “to ensure compliance.”
Applicant Loses Chance at Noncommercial Radio Station After Failing to Make Required Disclosures
An applicant seeking to build a new noncommercial educational (NCE) station in Florida saw its application dismissed after a petition to deny raised disclosure issues with it. The company filed the application in November 2021 during the most recent filing window for new NCE applications. Applicants with applications deemed to be mutually exclusive (MX) are given an opportunity to work together to resolve technical conflicts through settlement arrangements. If the conflicts are not resolved, the FCC compares and analyzes the competing applications and tentatively selects a winning application.
The FCC’s comparative analysis of MX NCE applications generally consists of three main components. When NCE FM applicants in an MX group propose service to different communities, the FCC performs a threshold fair distribution analysis under Section 307(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 to determine if one of the applicants is proposing service to an underserved area. Application conflicts that are not resolved under this “fair distribution” analysis are next compared by the FCC under an NCE point system, which is a simplified, “paper hearing” process. If necessary, the FCC then makes a tie-breaker determination, based on applicant-provided data and certifications. Continue reading →