FCC Keeps a Watchful Eye on Tower Sites

WASHINGTON: A recent round of fines levied by the FCC included multiple violations at broadcast transmitter sites, David Oxenford said. Oxenford is a media attorney with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. Actions were taken against licensees for not having a locked fence around a tower and failure to operate the studio-transmitter link on the authorized frequency.

“The licensee admitted having had the STL transmitter modified to operate on the new frequency, but apparently the licensee had not bothered to ask the FCC for permission to operate on that new frequency in the six months since the rebuild,” Oxenford said. “Like so many other little things, a station must follow the rules and file the correct papers to have the FCC approve the channel change for a broadcast auxiliary license.”

There are a litany of little regulations governing tower sites, he said, “like registering a tower, updating the tower registration, observing tower lights, remembering to renew earth station licenses, and similar issues.”

Commission inspectors are sticklers for fencing as well. Fines have been levied for unlocked gates, holes or areas that are partially knocked down.

“The FCC is alert for violations--and particularly alert to problems at transmitter sites that affect a station’s radiation pattern or present safety issues,” Oxendord said. “So check your operations--and make sure that your bases are covered to avoid a nasty financial surprise should the commission inspector come knocking.”

Oxenford’s full post is available at Davis Wright Tremaine’s Broadcast Law Blog.