FCC Fines Cable Op Big Bucks for Alleged EAS, Leakage Violation

The FCC has levied an almost quarter-million dollar fine on
a Florida cable operator for what it says was repeated failure to respond to
the commission or install or maintain Emergency Alert System (EAS) equipment,
operate within signal leakage limits that prevent possible interference with
navigation, or shut down when the FCC told it to.

The FCC led off its website news headlines with the forfeiture
order, suggesting the seriousness of the issue.

In a notice of forfeiture, the FCC said that St. George
Cable of St. George Island, Fla., will have to pay a $236,000 fine and confirm,
under penalty of perjury, that it is in compliance with EAS and signal-leakage

After a 2011 inspection, FCC agents said that there were
dozens of leakages into aeronautical frequencies and ordered the operator to
shut down until the problem was fixed. The operator said it would comply with
the order, but the FCC said the company had never contacted it to obtain
authority for conducting testing on its repairs. A re-inspection found more
leaks and the FCC told the operator to cease operations, which it says St.
George did not.

The FCC also said the company, as of September 2011, had not
installed EAS equipment. It cited the seriousness of noncompliance with rules
designed to protect life and safety for the size of the fine, as well as a
company history of compliance.

The fine breaks down as follows: $150,000 for operating with
excessive signal leakage; $37,500 for failing to cease operations when ordered
to; $37,500 for not installing EAS equipment; $6,000 for failing to file a
required form; and $5,500 for failing to respond to a Bureau order to submit a
certification of compliance.

A request for comment from St. George had not been responded
to by presstime.

John Eggerton

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.