As part of Chairman Powell's efforts to reform the FCC, the Mass
Media Bureau, which handles all radio and television matters, will be
merged into the Cable Services Bureau, which handles all cable matters,
to form a new Media Bureau. The Media Bureau will handle AM, FM,
LPFM, TV, LPTV, cable policy, EEO, political programming, and DBS
(Direct Broadcast Satellite) post-licensing policy. DBS licensing will
remain with the International Bureau. MMDS will be moved to the
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
Within the Media Bureau there will be a separate Office of Broadcast
License Policy, responsible for licensing functions. Under the Office
of Broadcast License Policy will be an Audio Division (radio) and Video
Division (TV and cable). The Media Bureau will also have a Policy
Division, Engineering Division and Industry Analysis Division.
It will be several months before the merger is implemented. The
newly appointed chief of the Cable Services Bureau, Kenneth Ferree,
will be chief of the new Media Bureau. The current chief of the Mass
Media Bureau, Roy Stewart, is expected to play a key role in the new
bureau. Roy Stewart has emphasized that radio and television issues
will receive the same priority in the Media Bureau that they currently
receive in the existing Mass Media Bureau.
Recent FCC forfeitures
EAS rule violations have resulted in fines ranging from $3,000 to
more than $21,000. Various violations included failure to maintain a
log of signals from the emergency-notifying source and leaving EAS
equipment unplugged. For national security reasons and to avoid FCC
fines, these rules must be followed.
A pirate FM operator in Richmond, VA, has been convicted on four
criminal counts related to transmissions of radio communications
without a license. The pirate faces sentencing in December and could be
imprisoned for up to one year and fined $100,000. The culprit had been
warned to cease operations by the FCC and the federal courts.
An AM station was fined $4,000 for failing to respond to FCC
correspondence. The licensee argued that the FCC was without
“moral authority” to impose such fines because the agency
often fails to meet its own deadlines. The FCC, acting on statutory
authority, dismissed the defense as frivolous and upheld the $4,000
A $10,000 fine was assessed against an AM station for not having red
obstruction lights from sunset to sunrise. Similarly, an $8,000 fine
was assessed against a licensee for failing to properly operate with
white daytime strobe lights as well as red nighttime lights. Also, an
FCC agent who visited an AM station discovered that the antenna
platform remained unlocked and susceptible to entry and access by any
passerby. The station is facing a $3,000 fine.
FRN use mandatory December 1
Everyone has seen the small box on Form 159 — the box that
asks for the Payor's or Applicant's FRN number. Few have filled it in,
choosing to provide their required TIN number only. However, beginning
on December 1, 2001, the FCC will require the use of an FRN number on
all applications, linking such applications to CORES (Commission
The FRN, or FCC Registration Number, is a 10-digit number assigned
to an entity doing business with the FCC, including private, public,
profit and not-for-profit organizations. A filer, licensee, certificate
holder, or any entity sending payments to the FCC is considered to be
doing business with the FCC. Petitioners or complainants are not
required to have an FRN; however, they are encouraged to obtain one
anyway for identification purposes.
Most ULS registrants were pre-registered in CORES, were given FRNs,
and their ULS passwords were converted to CORES as of June 22, 2000.
With few exceptions, most ULS passwords will work in both the ULS and
CORES systems until the two are ultimately integrated. Unfortunately,
FRN numbers and passwords do not replace any of the identification
numbers, account numbers and passwords currently in use by other
electronic FCC systems, such as CDBS.
The FCC will use the FRN number to verify that all entities doing
business with the FCC make proper payments and receive their annual fee
schedules and other materials. The FRN number will be required with
applications, Form 159, regulatory fee payments, waivers, auction
payments, forfeitures, and other payments and collections. When an
application requires a fee, the FRN is provided on Form 159. When an
application is nonfeeable, however, an FRN Certification Form (Form
162) must be filed with the application. Form 162 is available on the
FCC's website using the “Forms” link on the home page.
FRN numbers, while not yet required, were recommended for this
year's September 2001 Regulatory Fee filings. If you did not have an
FRN number, you were not allowed to use the current Form 159. Instead,
you were required to use the 1997 version of Form 159.
If you still do not have an FRN number, the easiest way to register
with CORES is to go to the FCC website and click on the
“Commission Registration System” link on the left side of
the home page. The system will guide you through a simple set of
questions about the registering entity. Once your information is
provided, the system will ask for a password and issue your FRN number
on the spot.
Harry Martin is an attorney with Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth,
PLC., Arlington, VA. E-mail email@example.com.
On or before December 1, radio stations in the following states must
file their biennial ownership reports: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut,
Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North
Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont.