FCC levies major fine against Florida cable operator

The FCC has fined a cable operator that serves a resort town $236,000 for violations, including its repeated failure to respond to the commission, to install or maintain Emergency Alert System (EAS) equipment and to operate within signal leakage limits that prevent possible interference with navigation.

The commission said that St. George Cable of St. George Island, FL, will have to pay the fine and confirm, under penalty of perjury, that it is in compliance with EAS and signal-leakage rules. FCC agents from the Tampa office inspected the facility in 2011 and found dozens of leakages into aeronautical frequencies and ordered the operator to shut down until the problem was fixed.

After the FCC hand-delivered the order and explained it to cable executives, the operator told the commission it would comply, but it never contacted the FCC to obtain authority for conducting testing on its repairs. A re-inspection found more leaks — many of which exceeded 100 μV/m at 3m. The FCC told the St. George Cable to cease operations. The cable company ignored the order.

As of last September, St. George had also not installed the required EAS equipment. After the operator admitted that it had not yet installed its purchased EAS equipment, the agents verbally warned St. George about its continued non-compliance with the EAS requirements. On September 23, 2011, agents from the Tampa Office returned to inspect the system’s EAS equipment and confirmed that St. George still had not installed its purchased EAS equipment.

The total fine consists of $150,000 for operating with excessive signal leakage; $37,500 for failing to cease operations when ordered to by the FCC; $37,500 for not installing EAS equipment; $6000 for failing to file a required form to the FCC; and $5500 for failing to respond to an FCC order to submit a certification of compliance.