Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

FCC Enforcement Monitor — March 2014: failure to disclose rules violations leads to $40,000 fine; and more

By Scott R Flick and Carly A Deckelboim

Late last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued two essentially identical orders against co-owned Milwaukee and Chicago Class A TV stations in response to a number of missing Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists and Children’s Television Programming Reports and for not reporting the missing issues/programmes lists in the stations’ licence renewal applications. The FCC’s Media Bureau proposed a $20,000 (£12,000) fine against each station, for a total fine of $40,000.

In late December of last year, the FCC issued Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) for the two stations, noting that the stations had mentioned in their licence renewal applications that they had failed to timely file numerous Children’s Television Programming Reports, but had not disclosed the absence from their online public files of more than a dozen (each) Quarterly Issues/Program Lists. Section 73.3526 of the FCC’s rules requires licensees to maintain information about station operations in their public inspection files so the public can obtain ‘timely information about the station at regular intervals’.

The base fine for failure to file a required form is $3,000, and the base fine for public file violations is $10,000. After considering the facts, the FCC concluded in each NAL that the respective station was liable for $9,000 for the missing Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists, $9,000 for the missing Children’s Television Programming Reports and an additional $2,000 for failing to disclose the missing Quarterly Issues/Program Lists in their renewal applications…

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