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FCC Fines Scripps $1.13M for TV Tower Lighting Violations

WASHINGTON—The FCC and Scripps Broadcasting Holdings have come to an agreement that would result in a fine of $1.13 million to Scripps for violations of monitoring practices of lights on TV towers it owns. Scripps is also required to abide by a compliance plan to prevent further violations.

This all began on Aug. 31, 2018, when a small aircraft crashed into a TV tower owned by Cordillera Communications in Kaplan, La. The FCC found no evidence connecting the collision to a violation of Part 17 of the Communications Act of 1934, which is meant to ensure antenna structures do not pose a hazard to aviation safety. However it did find irregularities with Cordillera’s compliance with Part 17 that it determined warranted further investigation into the Kaplan structure and 10 other Cordillera owned structures.

This expanded investigation discovered problems with Cordillera’s towers that included monitoring of tower lighting systems, maintenance of complete records of lighting failures and notifications to the FCC of changes of ownership of two towers.

In the spring of 2019, Scripps and Cordillera finalized an agreement that would have Scripps acquire all equity interests in 10 of Cordillera’s license subsidiaries. As part of the deal, Scripps agreed to accept liability for the results of the FCC’s investigation.

This fine of $1.13 million, as well as the compliance plan, were all negotiated by Scripps with the FCC.

The details of the compliance plan include that Scripps will designate a senior corporate manager as its Compliance Officer within 30 days of the agreement, who will be responsible for developing, implementing and administering the compliance plan. Within 60 days of the agreement, Scripps will be required to officially develop its compliance plan, which will include operating procedures, a compliance manual and a compliance training program.

The FCC has released its complete order against Scripps and made it available to the public.

Editors Note: A previous version of the article mistakenly referred to Scripps Broadcasting Holdings as Sinclair Broadcasting Holdings.