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Missing Fence Earns Licensee a $10K Fine

Failure to enclose antenna structures in a three-tower array leads to penalty

Ah, the beauty of a fence. It shoos away wandering livestock, deters nosy teenagers and keeps enforcement agents happy.

That’s a lesson the People’s Broadcast Network has learned the hard way. The Northeast Region of the Federal Communication Commission’s Enforcement Bureau found that People’s Broadcast failed to enclose the antenna structures in AM station WDJZ’s three-tower array within effective locked fences, and handed the licensee a $10,000 fine.

In a July 2012 inspection, agents from the bureau’s Boston office found that the wooden fences surrounding the station’s three-tower array were missing entire sections. The agents also found that there was no fence surrounding the perimeter of the property, which allowed for unrestricted access to the antenna structures. Agents informed People’s Broadcast about the missing fencing and advised the company to make repairs.

Upon returning a month later, agents found that repairs had not been made and that the fencing had deteriorated further with additional missing sections. In March 2014, the bureau issued a Notice of Apparent Liability of $10,000 against People’s Broadcast for failing to enclose the tower array within a locked enclosure.

People’s Broadcast filed a response to the NAL a month later, saying that it fully repaired the deteriorated fences after receiving the NAL, and that it is experiencing financial hardship and is unable to pay the proposed forfeiture amount.

No go, said the FCC. In a forfeiture notice handed down on Nov. 25, the commission found that reducing or cancelling the fine was not warranted. While the commission does reduce an assessed forfeiture based on the good faith corrective efforts, those efforts must be taken prior to notification of the violation. “As the commission has repeatedly stated, ‘corrective action taken to come into compliance with commission rules or policy is expected, and does not nullify or mitigate any prior forfeitures or violations,’” the commission said in its notice.

Nor did People’s Broadcast provide sufficient documentation that would support its inability to pay, the commission said. When an entity declares that it is unable to pay a proposed forfeiture, the commission requires it to provide tax returns or other financial documentation that accurately reflects the entity’s current financial status. In this case, People’s Broadcast provided the Enforcement Bureau with documentation of its cash receipts and disbursements from 2013, but despite repeated requests from the bureau, People’s Broadcast did not provide any supplemental financial documentation, the bureau said in its order. As a result, the commission found no reason to cancel, withdraw or reduce the fine.

Payment of the fine is due within 30 calendar days.