On December 30, 2015, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau released an Order adopting a Consent Decree entered into by the Bureau with private land mobile radio licensee Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC (“Constellium”).1 The Consent Decree provides that Constellium admits that it violated the Commission’s licensing rules, will implement a three-year compliance plan, and will pay a $135,000 civil penalty – a significant reduction from the original $294,400 penalty issued by the Commission in its initial Notice of Apparent Liability.
The violations of the Commission’s rules stemmed from Constellium letting eight of its licenses expire without timely filing renewal applications while continuing operations at the stations, and from a transfer of control of Constellium’s parent company which was completed prior to obtaining Commission consent.
The penalty amounts assessed to Constellium is significantly higher than prior penalties issued to private land mobile service providers for similar infractions. For example, Call Mobile Inc. was assessed a penalty of $12,000 for operation of a private land mobile station without a license for two and a half years and failure to file a renewal;2 Emigrant Storage, LLC was assessed a $20,000 for operating an expired license for 9 years and failure to file a renewal;3 and UNS Electric, Inc. was fined $25,000 for operating for 19 months with an expired license and failure to file a renewal application.4 The large penalty amount issued to Constellium reflects the recent uptick in penalty amounts by the Enforcement Bureau, particularly penalties imposed on private land mobile radio service providers. The recent increase in fine levels has raised the interest level in Congress, where leaders in the House and Senate from both parties are demanding answers regarding how the Enforcement Bureau both picks its targets and calculates its particularly high fines.
It is important that FCC licensees devote increasing awareness of these deadlines and rules to avoid major forfeitures.