The FCC issued a fine totaling $25,000 against a Kansas FM broadcaster for violations of the Commission’s Emergency Alert System (“EAS”), Antenna Structure Registration and Public Inspection File rules. During a main studio inspection by the Enforcement Bureau’s Kansas City Field Office, agents discovered that the station’s EAS equipment was unplugged and therefore inoperable. The licensee confirmed that, despite his efforts to retain an engineer to repair the equipment, it became “inoperable at sometime between 2000 and 2006” and remained inoperable as of the date of the inspection.
The field agents also observed that an antenna structure registered to the licensee lacked adequate paint and lighting. The licensee admitted the structure had not been repainted since it was erected in 1996 and that station personnel had not been conducting the mandated daily visual inspection of the structure, and had therefore failed to note that the paint was peeling or missing in several places, and that the flashing beacon lights and several side-lights were no longer functioning. Prior to concluding the inspection, the field agents reviewed the station’s public inspection file and determined that it was missing all issues/programs lists following the last quarter of 2008. The licensee confirmed that the reports had not been placed in the public inspection file.
Pursuant to Section 11.35(a) of the FCC’s Rules, broadcasters must ensure that the required EAS equipment is installed, maintained and monitored. Section 17.47 of the FCC’s Rules requires antenna structure owners to undertake an inspection of their antenna structure’s lights at least once every 24 hours. Inspections may be conducted visually or utilizing a properly maintained automatic indicator. Section 17.50 of the FCC’s Rules requires antenna structure owners to “clean and repaint structures as often as needed to maintain good visibility.”
Section 73.3526(e)(12) of the FCC’s Rules requires that a list of programs demonstrating a radio station’s most significant programming treatment of community issues during the preceding three month period be placed in the public inspection file on a quarterly basis. The list must include a brief narrative describing the issues addressed, as well as the time, date, duration and title of each program in which a particular issue was addressed.
The base fines for the violations discussed above are $8000 (EAS), $2000 (tower monitoring), $10,000 (tower painting) and $10,000 (public file). Using its discretionary power, the FCC upwardly adjusted the EAS violation to $9000 and downwardly adjusted the public inspection violation to $4000, for a total of $25,000.