Dish Fined $210M For Telemarketing Violations

The satellite provider will pay a historic civil penalty that tops the total penalties paid to the government by all prior violators of the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.

FCC Proposes $20,000 Fine For Program-Length Commercial In Children’s Programming

The FCC’s Video Division yesterday issued a Notice of Apparent Liability to WUTB Baltimore for airing a commercial for a Hot Wheels product in eight showings of the program Team Hot Wheels.  The commission has, for almost 30 years, had a policy against what they term “program-length commercials” — programs that feature characters who are also featured in a commercial that runs during the program.

FCC Continues Fines For Improper Use Of EAS Signals

FCC To Fine CBS $272,000 For EAS Tone In Show

The commission says the fine for an episode of Young Sheldon reinforces its rule that Emergency Alert System tones must only be used for real emergencies and authorized testing.

STATION ADVISORY

If The FCC Fines You Once, Don’t Do It Again

The FCC this week issued a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing a $233,000 fine to Cumulus Media for violations of the sponsorship identification rules.  The fine illustrates not only how seriously the FCC takes its sponsorship identification rules (particularly in the context of political and issue advertising) but also the how aggressively the FCC can act for even the slightest violation of a consent decree involving a prior violation of its rules.

EU Hits Google With $5B Antitrust Fine

While Google can easily afford the record fine, the ruling could hurt the company’s business model, which relies on giving away its operating system in return for opportunities to sell ads and other products.

Klobuchar: Fine Sites That Don’t Purge Bots

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter should be fined if they don’t weed out automated accounts, or bots, trying to influence U.S. public opinion, says Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

FTC Slaps Ad Agency With $2 Million Fine

Marketing Architects Inc., a Minneapolis-based advertising agency that created and disseminated allegedly deceptive radio ads for weight-loss products marketed by its client, Direct Alternatives, has agreed to pay $2 million to the Federal Trade Commission and State of Maine Attorney General’s Office to settle their complaint.

STATION ADVISORY

The FCC Is Still Enforcing EEO Rules

The FCC’s Media Bureau has levied a $20,000 fine for a licensee operating a five-station cluster in South Carolina that allegedly did not keep good EEO records and, when subject to a random EEO audit, was unable to identify any recruitment sources for other than word-of-mouth recruiting for six of 11 hires over a two-year period.

STATION ADVISORY

Kids Fine Shows FCC Still In Enforcement Biz

The FCC announced a consent decree with WMBC Newton, N.J., where the licensee,  Mountain Broadcasting, agreed to pay $17,500 for failing to identify “core” educational and informational programming directed to children with the required “E/I” symbol on the programming itself. This programming was, according to the consent decree, run on the station’s multicast streams — stations having an obligation to run at least 3 hours of educational and informational programming on each of its program streams.

EU Slaps Google With Record $2.7 Billion Fine

European antitrust regulators hit Google with a record €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) fine on Tuesday for systematically favoring its own search results above those of its competitors. The European Commission found that the U.S. tech giant used its search results to unfairly steer customers to its own shopping platform in a case that dates to 2010.

Dish Ruling Includes 20-Year Injunction

In addition to having to pay a $280 million fine for robocalls, a federal judge’s Monday decision also includes a 20-year permanent injunction that could severely limit the company’s ability to market its services by telephone in the future. And since the injunction applies to the company, not just Dish Network’s DBS service, it could seriously restrict Dish Network from selling other services—such as its Sling TV on-line offering, its cell phone repair service, and the installation of off-air TV antennas— using traditional telemarketing methods.

Dish Hit With $280M In Fines For Robocalls

A federal judge in Illinois on Monday ordered Dish Network to pay $280 million in penalties to the U.S. government and four states in an eight-year-old “robocall” telemarketing lawsuit. In what may be the largest ever monetary judgment in a robocall case, U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough required Dish to pay $168 million to the U.S. government and $112 million to North Carolina, California, Ohio and Illinois over what the judge said were “millions and millions” of calls.

DMA 47: JACKSONVILLE, FL

FCC Fines Tegna $55,000 Over EAS Tones

A WTLV Jacksonville, Fla., promotion for the Jacksonville Jaguars included EAS tones permitted only for emergencies and system tests.

FCC To Fine Unlicensed Kentucky LPTV

The commission wants to charge the operators of a low-power TV station in Morehead, Ky., $144,344 for operating without a valid license after they failed to renew their license and ignored FCC warnings.

 

FCC Fines KMTP $20K Over Public File

Repeatedly failing to keep its electronic public file up to date and not disclosing its failures in its license renewal application lead the commission to fine the Minority TV Project.

STATION ADVISORY

Higher FCC Fines Now In Effect

The FCC adopted new, higher, fines for violations of its rules and the Communications Act and they went into effect on July 1. The maximum penalties for violating the FCC’s rules or the Act by broadcast stations have increased. Now, a broadcaster can be fined $383,038 for any single indecent broadcast (up from $350,000), up to a maximum of $3,535,740 for a continuing violation of the indecency laws (up from $3,300,000).

STATION ADVISORY

Are You Aware Of Your TCPA Obligations?

Broadcasters need to know they face the potential for big liability if they don’t pay attention to the requirements of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The rules prohibit “telemarketing” calls or texts using an “autodialer” unless the recipient has explicitly consented to receive such messages. In a recent decision, the broadcaster allegedly responded to texts sent to enter a contest with reply texts containing advertising messages unrelated to the contest. The settlement was $8.5 million.

STATION ADVISORY

FCC Stands Tough On Quarterly Issues Fine

In an FCC decision fining a TV station $10,000 for failing to include 15 Quarterly Issues Programs lists in its public inspection file, the FCC refused to reduce the proposed liability based on an intervening “long-form” transfer of control followed by a short-form assignment of license of the station. Thus, even though the station was no longer controlled by the same individuals who controlled the station at the time of the violation, and even though the licensee company was different, the fine still applied.

FCC Fines WYDC Over Kids TV Reports

The FCC has fined WYDC Elmira, N.Y. (DMA 175), $3,000 for failing to file FCC Children’s Television Programming Reports for three quarters, an “apparent willful and/or repeated violation.”

DMA 135: TOPEKA, KS

FCC Fines KSQA Over Children’s Reports

The FCC has fined KSQA Topeka, Kan. (DMA 135), $15,000 for not filing on time its Children’s Television Programming Reports.  The station is owned by KSQA LLC, a joint venture between Barbara Wade (51%) and Cooper-Fowler Media (49%). KSQA is an affiliate of music network ZUUS Country. The FCC said “the licensee’s failure to electronically file the Station’s Children’s Television Programming Reports in a timely manner for 14 quarters and its failure to disclose this in its renewal application constitutes an apparent willful and/or repeated violation.”

DMA 4

FCC Fines Philadelpha Class A LPTV $90K

The FCC today fined low-power Class A WPHA Philadelphia $89,200 for failure to open its door to FCC inspectors, fully staff its main studio and operate its transmitter from its authorized location. The FCC said its ability to conduct unannounced inspections is “essential to its responsibility to promote safety of life and property.”

STATION ADVISORY

Does FCC Use Public Files To Spot Violations?

In a Notice of Apparent Liability released yesterday, the FCC proposed to fine a TV station $20,000 for being late in the filing of four years of Quarterly Children’s Television Programming Reports. While the penalty is consistent with the size of penalties that the FCC has been imposing for similar violations in recent years, the means by which the FCC apparently discovered the violation is what perhaps makes this case most interesting.

OPEN MIKE FROM JACK GOODMAN

$500K Political Ad Fine Cause For Concern

Last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau bragged it had fined Cumulus Media $540,000 for a violation at one of its New Hampshire radio stations where full sponsorship identification announcements were not made on issue ads. The commission said it is “the largest payment in FCC history for a single-station violation of the commission’s sponsorship identification laws.” There are several reasons why political advertisers, broadcasters and the FCC should worry about this development.

FCC Fines Oregon Licensee For Filing Violations

The FCC today issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Better Life Television for failing to file Children’s Television Programming Reports for three quarters for its KTVC Roseburg (DMA 139), KBLN Grants Pass (DMA 140) and K23EX-D Medford (DMA 140), all Oregon. The commission is fining Better Life $3,000.

FCC Proposes Millions In Fines, Collects $0

The FCC has yet to collect more than $100 million in fines it’s announced against wireless and phone companies in the past two years, sparking criticism from members of Congress who say the agency is chasing headlines without following through on enforcement. Among the outstanding cash: about $100 million in penalties proposed in 2013 against nearly a dozen companies accused of defrauding the FCC’s Lifeline low-income phone subsidy program, as well $35 million against a Chinese company for allegedly selling illegal wireless jamming equipment in June 2014.

FCC Fines KTGM Over Kids Programming Filings

The FCC has fined Sorensen Television Systems (the licensee of KTGM Tamuning, Guam) $9,000 failing to file Children’s Television Programming Reports with the FCC for nine quarters. The commission also said Sonensen also apparently willfully and/or repeatedly failed to file in the station’s electronic public file copies of its quarterly TV issues/programs lists for twelve […]

FAA Fines Drone Operator Nearly $2 Million

SkyPan International, a Chicago aerial photography firm, was hit Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration with a record proposed fine of $1.9 million for flying drones in busy downtown Chicago and New York without permission.

NAB, RTDNA Oppose WDBJ Indecency Fine

The two groups have come to the defense of Schurz Communications-owned WDBJ Roanoke, Va., that is facing a record broadcast indecency fine — $325,000 — by the FCC.

FCC Gets $90,000 Over E/I Violations

Beach TV Properties Inc., the operator of eight TV and Class A stations in the southeast U.S., agreed to make a $90,000 “voluntary contribution” to the FCC and to adopt new practices to insure future compliance with the CORE E/I programming requirements.

WDBJ Opposes Its FCC Indecency Fine

The Roanoke, Va., station says the FCC made a number of errors in applying the maximum penalty for just 2.7 seconds of video covering a small portion of the screen.

FCC Fines AT&T $100M Over Internet Speeds

The FCC slapped AT&T with a $100 million fine Wednesday, accusing the country’s second-largest cellular carrier of improperly slowing down Internet speeds for customers who had signed up for “unlimited” data plans. The FCC found that when customers used up a certain amount of data, AT&T “throttled” their Internet speeds so that they were much slower than normal.

STATION ADVISORY

Welcome To HD: FCC’s Indecency Course

While it’s clear the FCC didn’t have any qualms in pursuing the case that resulted in a $325,000 fine against WDBJ Roanoke, Va., it does raise practical questions for broadcasters in less unusual circumstances. For example, might the FCC find a station airing crowd shots at a live sporting event guilty of willful indecency because its monitoring equipment was not large enough to detect that a few members of the crowd were being over-enthusiastic in trying to draw the attention of the kiss-cam?

FCC Upholds Viacom, ESPN EAS Fines

The FCC means business when it tells companies not to use the distinctive Emergency Alert System audio tones to grab audiences’ attention for entertainment — the way Viacom and ESPN did when they ran ads for FilmDistrict’s 2013 thriller Olympus Has Fallen. The regulatory agency today rejected the companies’ claims that they shouldn’t be held responsible, requiring Viacom to pay a $1.12 million fine and ESPN to cough up $280,000.

DMA 41 (LAS VEGAS)

KTNV Fined For Fake ‘Special Reports’

Owner Journal Broadcast Corp. admits violating FCC rule that requires broadcasters to disclose the identity of program sponsors and will pay $115,000.

DMA 146 (ODESSA-MIDLAND, TX)

FCC Fines KWES Owner For BAS Violations

The FCC levied an $86,400 fine on the parent company of Midland and Odessa,Texas NBC affiliate KWES. The FCC says it asked Midessa Television, which also owns KTLE in Odessa, KWAB in Big Spring and KTLD in Midland, about its use of Broadcast Auxiliary Services for audio and video feeds between its studio and transmitter sites.

Retrans Violations Cost Cable System $2.25M

The FCC yesterday issued a $2.25 million fine to a set of companies that operated a system that retransmitted TV signals to households in large housing units in the Houston area. The system had paid retransmission consent fees to the TV stations, then stopped doing so, claiming that it was changing so as to operate as a Master Antenna Television System (MATV).

STATION ADVISORY

FCC Fines Station For Refusing Inspections

The FCC just gave broadcasters another reason to answer the door graciously. Last week, the FCC whacked a WPHA-CD Philadelphia with an $89,200 Notice of Apparent Liability for refusing to allow FCC inspectors to inspect the station’s facilities, not just once, but on three different occasions. It is rare to see the FCC show its irritation in an NAL, but the language used by the FCC leaves no doubt that the commission was not happy with the licensee, particularly with what the FCC believed was blatant disregard for its authority. As the FCC put it, “this is simply unacceptable.”

FCC Proposes Over $1.9 Million In EAS Fines

The cable network penalties represent the largest yet proposed in ongoing investigations of misuse of the Emergency Alert System warning sounds.

Turner Fined $200,000 For False EAS Tones

On Tuesday, the FCC proposed a $200,000 fine against Turner Broadcasting System  for distributing an ad containing EAS tones. According to the FCC, Turner’s Adult Swim Network aired ads produced by Sony Music Group that while they did not contain any digital data from an EAS tone, did simulate the EAS audio tone itself. The ad aired seven times over the network’s East Coast feed, and then was repeated seven more times in the West Coast feed three hours later.