Florida cable operator fined $236,500 for apparent FCC rule infractions

The FCC found St. George Cable in St. George Island, FL, apparently liable for a forfeiture of $236,500 Sept. 6 for several apparent rules violations, including installation and maintenance of operating Emergency Alert System equipment, and failure to register the cable system with the commission.

The commission also cited other apparent violations in its notice, including not operating the cable system within required limits on signal leakage and failing to suspend operations immediately as directed by an agency order.

The FCC Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) gave St. George Cable 30 days of issuing the notice to submit a statement “under penalty of perjury” that it is in compliance with FCC EAS and cable signal leakage rules.

According to the NAL, agents from the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau office in Tampa inspected St. George Cable on Sept. 7 and found 33 separate signals on aeronautical frequencies “leaking” from the cable system. According to the NAL, 22 leaks on 121.2625MHz measured over 100 μV/m at a distance of at least 3m. The inspection also turned up that the cable system’s Cumulative Leakage Index (CLI) exceeded the limit allowed by the FCC. Two days later, the agents from the Tampa office hand delivered an order to cease operation to the cable operator.

The Cessation Order allowed St. George Cable to request authority to conduct tests of the system to identify and correct the leaks but barred the operator from resuming normal service without receiving written approval from the Tampa office, it said.

The Tampa office agents re-inspected the cable operator on three subsequent occasions in September 2011 and found St. George Cable to still be operating and continuing to produce leaks above 20 μV/m. On Sept. 23, the agents verbally warned the St. George Cable about its continued operation and the leaks. In October 2011 and again in March 2012, the agents inspected the cable system and found it to be operating and responsible for numerous leaks, the NAL said.

The NAL also said agents responded to an Aug. 10, 2011, consumer complaint alleging the cable operator didn’t have EAS equipment installed. On Sept. 9, the Tampa Office agents asked to inspect the cable operators EAS equipment and logs. According to the NAL, St. George Cable said it had not yet installed its purchased EAS equipment, prompting the agents to warn the operator about continued non-compliance with EAS requirements. Two weeks later, the agents returned and found St. George Cable still had not installed the equipment.