FCC Cites SpectraSite for Antenna Structure Violations

The FCC is proposing to fine SpectraSite Communications, Inc. $120,500 for failure to register and light two antenna structures on Sesame Street in Richmond, Va. An agent from the FCC Office in Norfolk, Va, responding to information that a recently constructed, unpainted tower in that area exhibited no obstruction lighting, visited the site on Nov. 5, 2002 and found a 312.8 meter tower with no Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) number displayed and no obstruction markings or paint. A 180.9-meter tower nearby exhibited chipped and faded paint. That tower had the ASR number displayed, but the number was for the 312.8-meter tower. The agent "observed no lighting exhibited on either of the two structures," according to the FCC Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture.

Subsequent checks with the FAA Flight Service Station covering the area showed it had not received any report of a lighting malfunction for any antenna structure nears the towers on Sesame Street. The two SpectraSite towers are used by WCVE-TV, licensed to Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation (CPBC). An employee of WCVE-TV told the FCC agent on Nov. 6, 2002, that the taller tower was completed three to four months earlier and that, as far as he knew, the structure had never exhibited lights. The FCC agent also interviewed the Director of Program Management for SpectraSite Broadcast Group. The Director said, regarding the lack of lighting on the 312.8-meter tower, that SpectraSite had maintained temporary red lighting during construction but he was not sure why it was removed. He also stated the temporary lighting was removed sometime around the second week in October, but he did not know why the permanent lights were not exhibited.

The Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture noted that as of Sept. 16, 2003, SpectraSite had still not registered its 180.9 meter structure with the FCC. The Notice requires SpectraSite to "submit a report to the Enforcement Bureau within 30 days of the release date of this NAL demonstrating that it has filed an antenna structure registration application for its 180.9 meter structure on Sesame Street in Richmond, Virginia." It continues, "Moreover, because SpectraSite has a history of non-compliance with the Commission's antenna structure rules, pursuant to Section 308(b) of the Act, we will also require SpectraSite to submit a report to the Enforcement Bureau that details a plan for ensuring that all of its antenna structures are in compliance with the Commission's Rules and a plan for maintaining future compliance. This report shall also be submitted within 30 days of the release date of this NAL." It concludes, "Finally, we are troubled that our field agents, in the context of routine enforcement responses and sample inspections, continue to uncover additional antenna structure rule violations by SpectraSite. Therefore, to the extent appropriate after its review of SpectraSite's report, we direct the Enforcement Bureau to conduct further investigation of SpectraSite's overall level of compliance with the Commission's antenna structure painting, lighting and registration requirements and to take or recommend where appropriate additional enforcement action against SpectraSite."

This action is summarized in the FCC News Release, FCC Proposes to Fine SpectraSite Communications Statutory Maximum of $120,500 for Antenna Structure Violations.