Feb 10 2020

WASHINGTON, DC—Radio broadcasters are diversifying how they distribute content, with streaming radio becoming an increased focus for broadcasters. However, Womble Bond Dickinson telecom attorney Gregg Skall writes in a new Radio Guide article that broadcasters would be wise to pay attention to that mainstay of radio, the tower.

FCC rules regarding radio tower maintenance and operation are clear and unbending. “The consent decree makes clear that each broadcasters is required to engage in regular, constant monitoring of their antenna structure lighting systems. Neglecting this responsibility creates a potential hazard to safety of life,” Skall writes. “Broadcasters are required to maintain a complete record of lighting failures and timely notify the Commission when they acquire an antenna structure.”

Recently, the FCC fined a large broadcasting corporation more than $1.1 million after a small airplane collided with one of their towers. While investigators found no evidence linking the crash to problems with the tower, they did find that towers owned by the company were in violation of several FCC rules. In particular, the owners failed to conduct a required regular daily inspection of the lighting systems; 2. Lighting failures at various towers were not completely logged; and 3. The FCC had not been informed of two antenna structure acquisitions.

Skall said a compliance plan should have three components:

  1. Operating procedures: “All employees who have any connection to the licensee’s responsibility for compliance with communications laws, including those relating to antenna structures, must be educated on and accept responsibility for (internal procedures) to ensure compliance with the lighting system of each tower,” Skall writes.
  2. Compliance Manual: A company should develop and distribute a compliance manual for all employees explaining their compliance responsibilities.
  3. Training Program: Employees responsible for compliance should be trained on their specific duties and responsibilities.

Click here to read “Important Broadcast Reminder: You Have a Tower!” by Gregg Skall in Radio Guide.

Gregg Skall represents broadcasters and other parties in their regulatory dealings before the Federal Communications Commission and in their commercial business dealings. He serves as Washington Counsel to several state broadcaster associations. He also works with telecommunications companies and with radio device manufacturers to obtain FCC approvals.