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

Agency Cites Life, Safety Issues $236 K Fine Against St. Georgia Cable
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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 equipment, operate within signal leakage limits that prevent possible interference with navigation, or shut down when the agency 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 rules.

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.