The FCC has voted to deny an appeal of its decision that eight station groups failed to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith and has further decided to propose fining each of the 18 stations at issue over $500,000 apiece. It is the first time the FCC has ever issued a forfeiture order for a failure to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith, as its rules require.
False EAS alerts have typically popped up in commercials as a way of getting jaded viewers’ and listeners’ attention, which makes them challenging to successfully defend. But what happens when the use of the alert tone is not in an ad, like in the case of its inclusion by CBS in an episode of Young Sheldon? The FCC is effectively claiming that CBS falsely yelled “fire” in a crowded theater, which is the well-established exception to First Amendment protections. CBS, on the other hand, is countering that it only yelled “boogeyman,” and that any reasonable viewer isn’t going to panic, because the public knows the difference between real and fictional things.
The FCC today said Walt Disney Co.’s ABC unit has agreed to pay a $395,000 civil penalty after an October 2018 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live used a simulated wireless alert tone.
Thursday morning, the FCC started to email notices to numerous radio stations throughout the country, notifying them that there are issues with their online public inspection files. Clearly, this is a warning to stations that the FCC is watching their public files, and that compliance problems will bring issues, and possibly fines, if the files are not complete by license renewal time.
The $13.4 million notice of apparent liability is for its airing of paid programming that did not include proper disclosures when broadcast. Sinclair says it will contest the fine.
The FCC plans to fine Sinclair Broadcast Group $13.3 million after it failed to properly disclose that paid programming that aired on its TV stations was sponsored by a cancer institute, three people briefed on the matter told Reuters. The proposed fine covers about 1,700 spots including commercials that looked like news stories that aired during newscasts for the Utah-based Huntsman Cancer Institute over a six-month period in 2016.
Comcast will pay a $2.3 million fine to resolve an FCC investigation into the cable company’s billing practices, the agency said. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau had investigated after what the agency called numerous complaints of the MSO charging for products and services that weren’t ordered.
The FCC said that WSIX-FM Nashville has formally admitted to a violation of the FCC’s EAS rules, and has agreed to (1) pay a $1,000,000 civil penalty, (2) implement a three-year compliance plan, and (3) “remove or delete all simulated or actual EAS tones from the company’s audio production libraries.”
The commission cites KTVX Salt Lake City for broadcasting a private telephone conversation. Then-owner Newport admits violating FCC rules prohibiting broadcasters from invading consumer privacy and failing to respond promptly to investigative requests.
The FCC’s Media Bureau has proposed a $20,000 fine against Maryland Public Television for alleged violations of the agency’s equal opportunity employment rules and “false” reporting to the FCC about the alleged infractions.
Fines of $20,000 for violations of the obligations to prepare and file Children’s Television Reports have been flowing out from the FCC as it works its way through license renewal applications filed by television stations over the last year. In the last two weeks, the fines have continued, with a few targeting full-power stations, and many others hitting Class A stations.
There are limits to how much commercial time can be inserted into television programming aimed at children, and a Max Media’s WMEI Arecibo and WOST Mayaguez in Puerto Rico overshot them by less than a minute — an infraction they’ll pay for.
It’s important not to lose sight of the Little Things. Your primary operating license? That’s a Big Thing. You know where that stands, and you make sure that everything about it is in good order. But how about your auxiliary licenses — studio-transmitter links (STLs), remote pickups, that sort of thing? Those Little Things may seem like unimportant incidentals in the greater scheme of your operation, but heads up: the FCC doesn’t share that perception.
In the past decade, $10,000 has become the standard “go to” fine for even minor public file violations. In fact, there was a recent case where the FCC chose to adjust its base fine upward and issue a $15,000 fine for a public inspection file violation.