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Equity Assessed $30,000 in Fines

FCC assesses company for tower violations at N.J. AMs

The FCC assessed a total of $30,000 in fines for Equity Communications for tower violations at two New Jersey facilities. Equity owns WMID(AM), Atlantic City on 1340 kHz and WCMC(AM) in Wildwood on 1230 kHz.

The commission earlier proposed a $20,000 penalty against Equity for not painting its tower nor maintaining a locked fence around the structure. Equity acknowledged both violations in 2010, but asked for the penalty to be reduced.

The company admitted the tower paint was faded and chipped; Equity’s chief engineer told the agency the broadcaster planned to install strobe lights in lieu of painting the tower in 2011. Equity said during its own tower site visits, the fence gate was locked and noted that “several tenants lease space” on the tower and “each of them” has a key.

During three reinspections, FCC agents found nothing had changed, according to the agency’s decision, it determined that reducing the penalty wasn’t warranted.

Agents also found an unlocked fence surrounding the tower at WCMC in 2011 and had assessed a $10,000 fine. After a reinspection showed the fence was still not locked, the Enforcement Bureau spoke with Equity’s president, who subsequently arranged for a contractor to install a temporary, locked, chain link fence and submitted photos to the commission. A permanent fence was installed soon after.

Equity had asked for the fine to be cancelled. The FCC declined, noting that its president told the agents the fence had been damaged during a hurricane, so Equity knew the gate was unlocked, and had not fixed it, before the agents’ original inspection. Equity didn’t have a temporary fence installed until after the FCC contacted the broadcaster a second time, according to the agency.

Equity has 30 days to pay.