The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau says ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV has agreed to pay a $3.5 million civil penalty over claims that Pluto TV streamed off-TV video on some platforms without the availability of the requisite captions, in violation of FCC rules. The company has also admitted to liability for its actions.
The city of Jackson, Miss., will be required to pay more than $170,000 in legal fees to NBC affiliate WLBT’s parent company, Gray Television, after the Mississippi Ethics Commission ruled the city violated state law by taking more than a year to provide public records to WLBT. The fine represents the largest amount of money levied against a public body by the commission in Mississippi history, and will be one of a handful of times that the commission has required a public body to pay legal fees.
France’s competition regulation agency threatened fines of another 900,000 euros (around $1 million) per day if Google doesn’t come up with proposals within two months on how it will compensate publishers and news agencies for their content.
In a first for an acquisition of a network affiliation, the FCC says Gray Television has “willfully and repeatedly” violated the commission’s prohibition on owning two of the top-four rated full-power TV stations in a market. The FCC has proposed a half-million-dollar fine. The commission said that the proposed fine stemmed from its acquisition of the CBS affiliation of KTVA — which went dark — when it already owned NBC affiliate KTUU, both in Anchorage, Alaska.
As part of a settlement agreement announced Tuesday, Fox also agreed to mandate anti-harassment training for its New York-based staff and contributors and to temporarily allow people who allege misconduct under human rights law to bring claims and not be subject to binding arbitration.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A WTLV Jacksonville, Fla., promotion for the Jacksonville Jaguars included EAS tones permitted only for emergencies and system tests.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.