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Unlit Tower Lights Mean $14,000 Fine for LBC

Unlit top beacon and top side lamps, no FAA notification and old ownership information for Iowa tower lead to proposed penalty for Latin Broadcasting Co.

The FCC proposed a $14,000 for Latin Broadcasting Co. for tower lighting and registration violations.

Responding to a complaint about a tower light outage in July 2012, an agent from the Kansas City office of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau inspected the tower in Dallas Center, Iowa, and noticed the top beacon and top set of side lamps were out at sunset.

The GM told the agent that LBC owned the structure, however the commission’s Antenna Structure Registration database still listed Perry Broadcasting as the owner. Neither LBC’s GM nor its engineer were aware of any lighting outages, nor who was responsible for monitoring the tower lights, according to the commission. The GM thought the lights were monitored once a week while the engineer said they were observed daily.

Responding to an inquiry, LBC told the FCC it acquired the tower from Perry in 2008 and that LBC’s attorney would update the ASR database. LBC said it was installing an automated monitoring system and claimed its operations manager thought he had contacted the FAA to report the outage.

The commission didn’t find that last part credible, noting that pretty quickly in the FAA’s notification process, someone would talk with a live operator and know they have properly notified the FAA of the outage. The commission decided LBC is apparently liable for a $14,000 fine, consisting of $10,000 for the lighting and $4,000 for not updating the ownership database.

LBC has 30 days to appeal or pay; it also has 30 days to certify the tower lights have been repaired and that the broadcaster will ensure the FAA is notified until those are fixed; LBC must also certify an automated monitoring system is in place.