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The Case of the $7,000 Lock

Station avoids a tower fencing fine after appeal

This story has two morals: Keep your tower fences locked. But if you are hit with a fine, don’t be afraid to contest it if you feel you have grounds.

A Colorado AM owner convinced the Federal Communications Commission to cancel a $7,000 penalty this week. KGRE(AM) in Greeley had been fined for failing to enclose its tower properly.

The case involved a lock that wasn’t working on the gate for the fenced enclosure. FCC agents were able to gain access. They observed that people lived within 250 yards of the tower and there was no perimeter fencing erected around the property to keep the public from approaching the structure.

The rules require that antenna towers with radio frequency potential at the base — series fed, folded unipole and insulated base antennas — must be enclosed within effective locked fences or other enclosures.

Greeley Broadcasting argued that the violation was minor, immediately corrected and not repeated; also that the company had a history of compliance and further that it could not pay the fine.

“We disagree with Greeley that the violation was minor,” the FCC ruled. “The harm … is access by the general public to antenna towers with radio frequency potential at the base … a locked gate is imperative to ensure protection from that type of harm.” And it didn’t rule on the station’s ability to pay.

But the commission found that that the evidence did not conclusively demonstrate that the duration of the violation was more than three hours and it decided simply to admonish the station.