The FCC recently issued a Forfeiture Order imposing a $25,000 fine on the owner of a Missouri cable system for failing to make available required records and data.

Under the FCC’s Rules, cable operators that provide children’s programming are required to place records in their “public file[s] no later than the tenth day of the quarter following the quarter in which the covered programming aired” demonstrating compliance with the FCC’s commercial time limits for children’s programming. The information must also be available for inspection upon request. During an inspection by FCC agents, the cable system was unable to produce all of the required children’s programming documentation, and was also missing two years of proof of performance test data regarding the technical operation of the system.

The FCC had issued an NAL for the violations in July of 2012, in response to which the cable system argued that the proposed fine should be reduced because: (1) it could not provide the information at the time it was requested due to scheduled employee absences, (2) it located the missing records and data and consolidated it at a single location within three days of the inspection, and (3) it had since undertaken “comprehensive voluntary efforts to create an internal web-based public file system.”

Although the base forfeiture for such a violation is $10,000, the FCC had previously increased the proposed fine to $25,000 in the original NAL based on the cable operator’s ability to pay and its past violations of the same rules. When the cable operator asked that the fine be reduced, the FCC rejected the request, noting that this was the cable operator’s third violation, and that the FCC wanted the fine to be “an effective deterrent and not simply a cost of doing business.” The FCC also noted that the station’s subsequent corrective actions did not mitigate the seriousness of the violations, and did not merit a reduction in the fine.