An RBR-TVBR reader joined in the conversation about steep FCC fines and said there are so many rules to keep track of that it’s likely almost all stations are guilty of something. He suggested if the FCC is more interested in compliance than punishment it should make it easier – and less costly — for stations to turn themselves in.
The remarks came from broker/consultant Brett Miller of MCH Enterprises, in a comment thread tied to an RBR-TVBR story entitled “What’s worse than a file fine -two of them.”
Miller observed that this particular action constituted “…absurdity to the highest level,” and noted that such punitive actions were not a way to get stations into compliance with the rules. “Why would anyone come clean knowing they’re going to get slammed?” Miller wondered.
When another reader suggested that Miller sounded like an honest broadcaster, and that a station in such a situation should paper over the problem as best they can and move on, Miller responded, “You’re darned right I’m honest…and that’s honestly what happens. Is it right? No. Should broadcasters pay attention? Yes. Do they do it? Not always.
“In our little corner of the business, we see too many broadcasters that just don’t pay attention to the rules for one reason or the other. What do they do about it? Paper it over and life moves on.
“I will bet you a dollar to a donut that there is not one single station in the entire business that doesn’t have an infraction somewhere. Some are little, some are big, some get caught and most don’t.
“But if the FCC expects broadcasters to fully divulge their transgressions and more importantly, correct them, it won’t get there by hammering the honest ones that divulge their mistakes.
“Give them a ‘fix it’ ticket, and then follow up. If the infraction is corrected remove the fee. If the FCC truly wants to change behavior instead of just punish, it needs to rethink its approach to the ‘self-examination’ process. And that’s the honest truth.”
Miller added one more observation: That the more regulation that the FCC comes up with, the more opportunities for broadcasters to miss one. “And quite honestly, as the FCC lays on more and more regulatory burdens, the greater the possibility that those little infractions will occur and the more likely they’ll just get papered over. And that’s the truth.”