This month, the FCC turned its attention to towers with old and fading paint. The FCC issued two fines for $10,000 each to tower owners who failed to maintain the visibility of their towers.
In the first case, the owner of a registered antenna structure in Texas was fined for failing to clean or repaint the structure. In February 2012, agents from the Dallas Office of the Enforcement Bureau inspected the antenna structure and found the paint was rusted and faded in several areas, making the structure less visible and also making it difficult to distinguish the alternating bands of paint on the structure. Following the inspection, the owner spoke with an agent and admitted that the tower had not been repainted in the two years since the owner had acquired the structure, and that the structure was last painted twelve years ago. Within a few weeks of this conversation, the owner repainted the structure and sent an e-mail to the field office with a picture of the repainted structure.
Despite the owner’s efforts to bring the tower into compliance, the FCC issued a NAL for $10,000 to the owner, finding that the owner had violated Section 17.50 of the FCC’s Rules, which requires that antenna structures be repainted or cleaned “as often as necessary to maintain good visibility.”
In a second Forfeiture Order, the FCC upheld an earlier decision fining the owner of a tower in Oklahoma for similar violations of the FCC’s Rules requiring that structures be repainted and cleaned.
In September 2011, agents from the FCC inspected the antenna structure and found the paint to be heavily faded and chipped. The FCC issued an NAL for $10,000 in January 2012. The owner responded to the NAL and requested cancellation of the proposed fine. The owner argued that it had taken “serious steps to restore the Antenna Structure well before the FCC inspection,” including allocating money in its budget and meeting with a professional tower inspection company, but those efforts had been delayed due to financial hardships. The owner also asserted that the fine should be reduced because the owner had entered into a contract to replace the old structure with a new, compliant antenna structure after the NAL was issued.
Once again, the FCC did not find the owner’s efforts sufficient to justify a reduction or cancellation of the fine. The FCC also reiterated its firm stance that it does not believe “merely having discussions with contractors regarding the repainting of the tower prior to the agent’s inspection warrants a reduction of the forfeiture amount on the basis of good faith.” Instead, the FCC maintained that the $10,000 fine it had proposed was appropriate to the circumstances.