FCC mulls TV penalties

Proposals include staggered schedule of sanctions

WASHINGTON–The Federal Communications Commission Thursday began a review of what is fair and just punishment for TV stations missing various deadlines to go all digital.

Proposals include a staggered schedule of sanctions, depending upon how many times a station misses the mark.

Initially, the FCC would issue only an admonishment. After that, a TV station would receive notices of apparent liability for forfeiture. Ultimately, a station could lose its spot on the digital spectrum.

The FCC has already granted hundreds of waivers to broadcasters. All of the country’s stations were supposed to be beaming a digital signal by May 1. In recent months, however, it became apparent that the deadline could not be met, due to circumstances beyond the broadcasters’ control.

FCC commissioners said it is important to have a uniform policy regarding sanctions.

“I strongly support the steps we take today to set forth in clear terms the penalties we propose to impose upon broadcasters that fail to meet their build-out deadline and do not warrant an extension,” FCC commish Kevin Martin said. “I believe our proposal is stringent yet fair.”

All sides will be given a chance to comment on the FCC’s proposal.