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Unlit Tower Lights Generates $10,000 Fine

Licensee Martin Broadcasting has 30 days to get lights repaired

The FCC fined Martin Broadcasting, a tower owner in Beaumont, Texas, $10,000 for not having red obstruction lighting overnight and for not monitoring the lighting.

The tower is 497 feet in overall height above ground and must be painted and lighted, according to the agency.

Martin must submit a sworn statement certifying that the broadcaster is in compliance with the commission’s tower lighting regulations within 30 days.

Responding to a complaint in November 2001, an agent from the Houston office of the commission’s Enforcement Bureau inspected the tower after sunset and saw the top and midpoint red obstruction lights and 3/4 side lights were out.

The commission contacted the Federal Aviation Administration and determined that Martin Broadcasting had not notified the FAA about the light outages.

In January of this year, an agent reached the tower owner who said he learned of the previous outages from telephone messages left by the FCC. The commission said the owner told the agent the lights were not being observed daily and that the tower didn’t have an alarm system to monitor the lights. The licensee admitted he didn’t contact the FAA about the outage, according to the agency’s account.

Under FCC rules, tower owners must observe required lighting once every 24 hours or to install an automatic alarm system. They’re also required to contact the FAA immediately when tower lights fail.

The commission found Martin apparently liable for a $10,000 fine and directed the licensee to certify that the lights have been restored or detail a timeframe for when they’ll be repaired or replaced.

Martin is also responsible for notifying the FAA to ensure an active Notice to Airmen remains in place until the tower lights have been restored. This statement must be submitted to the Enforcement Bureau’s Houston office within 30 days. Martin also has 30 days to appeal the fine.