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 Licenses After Alleged Failure to Report Felony Drug Conviction
- Car Dealership Receives Citation for Interference-Creating Outdoor Lighting
- License Renewal Hearing Ordered for Near-Silent Virginia Stations
- FCC Commissioner Criticizes Local Colorado News Site Over Pirate Radio Station Article
LA Business Stripped of Licenses for Alleged Misrepresentations About Drug Conviction
In a rare Order of Revocation, the FCC revoked all of a Los Angeles communication equipment provider’s licenses after the licensee failed to respond to an inquiry into whether its manager lied about a 1992 felony drug conviction in dozens of Commission filings.
The Order rescinds the licensee’s eleven Private Land Mobile Radio (“PLMR”) and microwave station licenses and dismisses all of the licensee’s pending modification and license renewal applications.
Section 312(a) of the Communications Act authorizes the FCC to revoke a license “for false statements knowingly made … in the application” or when it finds that conditions “warrant it in refusing to grant a license[.]” Pursuant to Section 1.17(a)(1) of the FCC’s Rules, no person may “intentionally provide material factual information that is incorrect or intentionally omit material information that is necessary to prevent any material factual statement that is made from being incorrect or misleading.” The FCC heavily weighs any misrepresentation or lack of candor when it determines whether a party is fit to become or remain a licensee.
The FCC began looking into the licensee’s fitness in 2015, when a different Los Angeles business alleged that the licensee had knowingly lied on an at least one FCC application when it replied “No” to a question that asked whether any of the licensee’s controlling parties had ever been convicted of a felony. As it turns out, the manager (who is also the licensee’s sole shareholder) had been convicted of possession for sale of cocaine and sentenced to serve two years in California State Prison over two decades ago. The FCC would later learn that the licensee had misrepresented the manager’s criminal history in at least 50 separate FCC filings.
In response, the FCC sent the licensee a Letter of Inquiry (“LOI”) seeking information about the manager’s role with the company and any criminal history. When the licensee did not respond to the LOI, the FCC commenced a proceeding with an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to determine whether the licensee had engaged in misrepresentation before the Commission, whether it was qualified to remain a licensee, and what the FCC should do with the licensee’s various outstanding applications. When the licensee failed to respond to the ALJ’s request to file a written appearance, and failed to appear for a status conference, the ALJ ordered a hearing, which the licensee also ignored.
The FCC determined that the company was unqualified to remain a Commission licensee, revoked all of its licenses, and denied with prejudice all of the licensee’s pending applications.
Light’s Out: FCC Issues Citation to Car Dealership That Fails to Address Harmful Interference
The FCC issued a citation to a North Dakota car dealership for its continued use of outdoor lighting that interferes with a wireless service provider’s nearby cell site.
Pursuant to Section 302(a) of the Communications Act, the FCC regulates all radio frequency energy-emitting devices (“RF devices”) that are capable of causing “harmful interference to radio communications.” Section 15 of the FCC’s Rules regulates intentional and unintentional radiators of RF emissions, ranging from garage door openers to sophisticated computer components. Section 18 regulates equipment that generates or uses RF energy for industrial, scientific, and medical (“ISM”) purposes. If ISM equipment causes harmful interference with an authorized radio service, Section 18.111(b) of the Rules requires its operator to take “whatever steps may be necessary to eliminate the interference.” Similarly, Section 18.115(a) requires the operator to “promptly take appropriate measures to correct the problem.” Continue reading →