Skip to main content

FCC Spells Out Sanctions for DTV Latecomers

In an order designed to pressure broadcasters into getting DTV signals on the air--or, at least, to "remind licensees of the importance of their DTV construction efforts," the FCC has ordered a series of sanctions for broadcasters that miss their DTV deadlines without good excuses.

The order matches the commission's earlier proposed sanctions, including the possibility of license revocation. The first level is a formal admonishing--an action already taken with scores of stations. Those still not in compliance six months later will be required to submit 30-day updates and will receive a notice of apparent liability for forfeiture, the first step toward a possible fine or other penalty. After one year, the FCC will consider the DTV licenses expired for stations still without extraordinary excuses.

The "remedies" do not affect stations that have sought and received extensions for reasons such as legal delays or ongoing financial hardship. The order also gives the FCC Media Bureau flexibility to be tougher or more lenient in particular cases.

"We believe that the graduated remedial measures ... are an appropriate and sufficiently flexible approach to ensure the continued successful build-out of DTV," the order stated. "[The] sanctions to be imposed on non-complying stations will give serious incentives for stations to take all possible steps to successfully complete DTV construction while providing non-complying stations the opportunity over time to come into compliance and complete their DTV construction."

According to the order, 679 of the 1,196 commercial stations subject to the May 1, 2002 deadline were broadcasting DTV as of March 12.