Microwave Licensee Fined $6,000 for Operation on Unauthorized Frequencies

It isn't unusual to find microwave radios used in sporting events or for newsgathering that can be operated on a wide range of frequencies, some of which may not be authorized for broadcast auxiliary use under the broadcaster's or network's license.

While crews may be tempted to use these frequencies to avoid interference, a Notice of Apparent Liability (DA 09-1044) released Monday shows the FCC will not tolerate use of unauthorized frequencies. The FCC held the licensee responsible for the unauthorized operation even though they blamed a technician for unknowingly using the wrong frequencies.

In this case, Corr Wireless Communications LLC is accused of operating a Common Carrier Fixed Point-to-Point microwave link WPJD282 on 2168.45 MHz instead of its licensed frequency of 2165.20 MHz, and operating WMV851 on 2118.5 MHz instead of 2115.20 MHz. While these frequencies are very close to Corr's licensed frequencies, the FCC decided Corr was liable for a fine of up to $8,000.

Corr asserted it was unaware the stations were operating on the incorrect frequency, saying a technician may have "unknowingly caused the unauthorized operation." The FCC rejected this claim.

"As a commission licensee ... Corr is charged with the responsibility of knowing and complying with the terms of its authorizations, the act and the rules," the FCC said. "In this regard, the commission has long held that a downward adjustment of a forfeiture is not justified where violators claim their actions or omissions were due to inadvertent errors. Moreover, the commission has long held that licensees are responsible for the acts and omission of their employees and independent contractors, and has consistently refused to excuse licensees from forfeiture penalties where the actions of employees or independent contractors have resulted in violations."

The FCC reduced the apparent liability to $6,400 because "Corr undertook corrective measures after learning of its violations, but prior to any Commission inquiry or initiation of enforcement action."

Although Corr said it had not received any complaints of interference, the FCC investigation was triggered by a complaint.

Read all of RF Reporthere.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.