The FCC's Enforcement Bureau, has fined Newport Television, former owner of KTVX(DT) Salt Lake City, $35,000 for broadcasting a phone conversation in a news report without telling the person on the other end of the line the call was being recorded for broadcast.
FCC rules prohibit broadcasting a phone conversation live or on tape, without permission.
"Consumers have a right to be free from having a broadcaster surreptitiously record their conversation and then broadcast it to their community," the FCC said. But the fine was also because Newport "hampered our investigation of the
initial complaint by failing to fully respond to communications from Bureau staff," the bureau said.
Newport signed a consent decree admitting liability for the violation and for "hampering" and agreeing to pay the civil penalty within 30 days. For its part, the FCC terminated its investigation and said the investigation, into a 2012 complaint that the station twice broadcast a conversation without permission, does not affect its qualifications, including character qualifications, to be a licensee.
Newport also agreed not to appeal the decision. Newport sold the station to Nexstar, but the consent decree applies to Nexstar as well.
Providence Equity Partners, the parent of Newport, sold 22 stations in 2012 to various parties, including 12 to Nexstar.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.