Wednesday, March 09, 2011

FM translator fined $13,000

Ace of Hearts Disc Jockey Service of Cape Canaveral, Florida has been issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for $13,000 for operating with excessive power.

FCC engineers found the station, authorized for 61 watts of transmitter output power, to be operating at 172 watts. During the inspection, the station promptly reduced its power to the licensed 61-watt figure.

Seven months later, in September 2010, the Commission received another complaint of interference, allegedly from W277AN. They found the station's field strength was again at levels significantly higher than should have been measured if the station was operating at licensed power. They inspected the station again, and found the transmitter operating at 140 watts, not 61 as authorized.

They also observed the station using a two-bay antenna, instead of the authorized single-bay unit. This means that while the transmitter power was roughly twice what was authorized, the effective radiated power (and thus, the interference potential) was considerably more than twice authorized.

FCC regulation 1.80 establishes "base forfeitures" for specific violations. The base forfeiture for excessive power is $4,000, and that for "unauthorized equipment" (the 2-bay antenna) is $5,000. The base forfeiture may be adjusted upwards (or downwards) as circumstances require. For example, the fine may be reduced if the station has no previous record of violations. In this case, because the station increased power back to 140 watts, after being informed that powers of more than 61 watts were unauthorized, the fine was adjusted upwards from $9,000 to $13,000.

The licensee has also been directed to submit a sworn statement confirming that W277AN has been adjusted to its authorized power level and antenna system - or, to describe steps the station will take to come into compliance. (I might presume one such step will be to suspend operation until the proper antenna can be installed! -- or to request modification of the W277AN license to specify a transmitter power sufficiently lower than 61 watts that the station's coverage -- and interference potential -- are no greater with the unauthorized antenna than they would be with the correct unit.

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