When the FCC Comes Knocking, Answer the Door! - $10,000 Fines for Unattended Main Studios

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The FCC's main studio rules require that broadcast stations have a main studio open during normal business hours.  And, when the studio is open, it obviously needs to be manned so that someone is there to meet any visitors who my show up.  And, sometimes, those visitors are from the FCC.  When the FCC shows up, one would think that station employees would go out of their way to greet the inspectors and provide them what they want.  But in two cases decided this week, that simply didn't seem to be the case, resulting in two notices of apparent liability proposing $10,000 fines.

One case involved a cable system (which also has a public file obligation and a duty to make the file available during normal business hours), whose employees turned away FCC inspectors until a supervisory employee was present.  In a broadcast case, the FCC inspectors found an apparently unmanned building at what was supposed to be the station's studio site and, when a woman arrived who was apparently the wife of the owner, rather than letting the inspectors in to the building, she told them they would have to call her husband - who did not answer his phone.  In responding to an FCC letter about the inspection that suggested that there was a violation, the licensee said that the inspectors erred by not ringing the door bell, and that employees come and go as they are needed, but are usually there during the day.  After getting that response, the FCC inspectors returned to the station to conduct another inspection, and found no doorbell, and an office that was again empty.

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Published In: Communications & Media Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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