Recent Enforcement Actions for September 18, 2019

Self-Policing Yields $175K in Fines
At some level, it is important to know that the FCC’s auction participation anti-collusion rules are applicable to anyone who filed an application to participate in the auction, even if they then elected not to bid. Further, these rules remain in place until the winning bidders submit their long-form applications. AT&T filed for, but then did not bid in the Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II auction (Auction 903) and before the end of the Quiet Period engaged in extensive discussions with the managing member/majority owner/authorized bidder of AMG Technology Investment Group, LLC, the largest winner of CAF-II funding. When these discussions reached some level within AT&T, the violation was discovered and reported to the FCC. On September 6, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing a $75,000 fine for AT&T. AMG received a $100,000 forfeiture.

Administrative Hearings
On September 6, the FCC released an NPRM proposing procedural changes to streamline administrative hearings. Anyone who has been involved in or even followed one of these hearings likely would agree with the FCC that these “trial-type hearings are costly and impose significant burdens and delays on both applicants and the agency that may not be necessary.” The proposed changes would shift work from ALJs to FCC staff and allow full Commission review at an earlier stage. (EB 19-214)

Sorry … No Emergency
On September 4, the FCC proposed a fine of $272,000 against CBS for willfully and repeatedly violating section 11.45 of the “Commission’s rules when, on April 12, 2018, it transmitted simulated [Emergency Alert System (EAS)] Tones in the television program Young Sheldon over fifteen of its owned-and-operated television broadcast stations, as well as when the Broadcast Programming Network transmitted or caused the transmission in two feeds of its more than two-hundred television station affiliates, in the absence of any of the Permitted Uses. EAS is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters and other television service providers to supply communications capability to the President of the United States to address the American public during a national emergency as well as for the delivery of important emergency information.

No Fees … No License
On September 9, the FCC revoked the license held by Shelley Broadcasting Company, Inc. for WGEA (AM), Geneva, Alabama (Station), for failure to pay delinquent regulatory fees owed to the Commission and dismissed a pending application for renewal of the license.

Category: Enforcement Corner