If a broadcaster is looking to maximize the fine that they receive for FCC violations, one would be hard pressed to pick three violations more likely to draw the ire of the FCC than those that were found after a field inspection of a North Carolina AM station, leading to a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing to fine the station $25,000. The inspection found a tower site with an unlocked fence (a fence which was also observed to be in disrepair) around areas of high RF radiation, and no evidence of either an EAS receiver or a public file at the station's main studio. In the FCC's estimation, that public file violation was the most serious, warranting a $10,000 fine. Those pesky violations that could lead to actual harm to real people if someone wandered onto the tower site or if an emergency message did not reach its intended audience - drew fines of $7000 (for the unlocked fence) and $8000 (for the missing EAS receiver).
A number of excuses were provided by the licensee, and rejected by the Commission. The fact that subsequent remedial actions were taken did not reduce the severity of the violations found during the inspection. An excuse offered after the inspection, that the studio was in the process of being moved to another location at the time of the inspection, meaning that the public file and EAS system were in transit, was also rejected - as the move was not mentioned to the FCC inspectors as a reason for the violation at the time of the inspection, and as the fact was that the station was in violation at the time of the inspection - during normal business hours, no public file or EAS equipment was at what was then the main studio. The fact that no EAS outage were noted on any station log was also taken into account by the FCC.
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Administrative Law Updates, Communications & Media Law Updates
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