FCC busts Turner Broadcasting System for unapproved transfers


Back in 2006, TBS had a 10% interest in CableNews Network, LP LLLP (CNN-LP), which in turn held 49 FCC licenses for various wireless and international radio facilities. But when CNN-LP was moved into Turner’s wholly-owned CNN Investment Company Inc. 12/31/06, nobody remembered to mention the transfer to the FCC.

At the time of the transfer, CNN Investment Company also underwent a name change to Cable News Network Inc.

It wasn’t until May 2009 that TBS, contemplating another transfer of the licenses, noticed its 2006 oversight and finally applied for the original transfer the licenses from the defunct CNN-LP.

The FCC noted that the base fine for such an oversight is $1K. It also said that in a case like this, taking the base and multiplying by the number of licenses was not standard operating procedure, since it often resulted in a penalty far out of line with the severity of the offense.

In this case, however, it found that the length of time between the commission of the infraction and the reporting and redress of it, nearly two and a half years, warranted an increase. The FCC decided to hit TBS with a $16K penalty.

RBR-TVBR observation: Once again, we find that it doesn’t matter how big or experienced or professionally qualified a media company is: FCC regulatory matters are still capable of finding a way to fall through the cracks.