Scripps Pays $1 Million-Plus to Settle Tower Lighting Issues

Scripps Broadcasting has agreed to pay $1,130,000 to settle an FCC investigation into TV tower lighting issues with stations it purchased from Cordillera Communications. 

The investigation was prompted by the crash of a small plane into a Cordillera TV tower in Kaplan, Louisiana, in 2018. 

In order to get the Cordillera deal approved by the FCC, which it was last April, Scripps had agreed to abide by the results of the ongoing investigation into the tower-lighting issues  and to toll the statute of limitations, meaning it agreed to extend it by two years.  

The FCC Enforcement Bureau investigation found no evidence to connect the collision to any violation of its rules, it did say it discovered "numerous, sometimes longstanding, irregularities" in Cordillera compliance and looked at other Cordillera towers, where it said it found problems with monitoring of tower lighting and maintenance of records of lighting failures, as well as a failure to notify the change of ownership for two of those towers. 

Scripps said it would abide by a compliance plan to prevent further problems. 

"While Scripps did not own these stations during this period of time, Scripps agreed to assume responsibility for the outcome of the investigation in order to obtain FCC consent to acquire the Cordillera stations," said the company in a statement. "In turn, Cordillera agreed to reimburse Scripps for any penalty assessed by the FCC as well as other costs and expenses related to this issue.

"The consent decree requires Scripps to implement a plan in the next 60 days to ensure that antenna structures of former Cordillera stations are in compliance with FCC regulations. The compliance plan lasts for two years." 

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.