If you think FCC broadcast fines are steep check this one out


If you are operating an unauthorized pirate FM station, and the FCC catches you, you’re probably looking at a fine of $10K. Security First of Alabama would likely call that amount peanuts. It’s paying $342K for making 43 unsolicited robocalls.

The calls, made to market residential security alarm systems, elicited a complaint from one recipient, and the FCC took the complaint to SFA and warned it that continued robocalls to citizens who do not wish to receive them could result in fines of up to $16K per violation.

Subsequent to that warning, the FCC received 33 more complaints about a total of 43 unsolicited calls.
The FCC applied a discount rate to the first 16 of the 43 calls – it only charged a total of $4.5K per call.
But it said the next 27 calls had “a troubling range of aggravating factors, and we therefore propose a higher base forfeiture for each of these violations.”

Among them, failure to avoid phone numbers listed in the do not call registry, a perpetually busy or disconnected op-out phone number, failure to honor new do not call requests that were made, and spoofing its phone number on calls so some complainants actually directed their complaints at the wrong company.

One company that was hit by SFA got a former presidential candidate to intervene on its behalf with the FCC. The FCC said, “With respect to this latter abusive tactic in particular, we note that we have received a letter from Senator John McCain on behalf of Audio Visual Projection Services, which claims that Security First placed telemarketing calls that ‘spoofed’ the company’s number on consumers’ caller ID displays with the result that that the company’s office ‘has been bombarded with hundreds of phone calls everyday for the past week from irate people, demanding that we remove them from our call list.’”

The 27 calls were each hit for $10K each, bringing the total assessment to $342K.

Sort of puts the typical broadcast licensee fine into perspective.