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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of Northeast Telephone Services, Inc. ) ) ) ) ) ) File No.:
EB-SED-13-00006159 NAL/Acct. No.: 201332100019 FRN: 0003758588
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture
Adopted: September 24, 2013 Released: September 24, 2013
By the Chief, Spectrum Enforcement Division, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, we propose a
forfeiture in the amount of five thousand four hundred dollars
($5,400) against Northeast Telephone Services, Inc. (Northeast).^ We
find that Northeast apparently willfully and repeatedly violated the
digital wireless handset hearing aid compatibility status report
filing requirements set forth in Section 20.19(i)(1) of the
Commission's rules (Rules).^
2. In the 2003 Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, the Commission adopted
several measures to enhance the ability of consumers with hearing loss
to access digital wireless telecommunications.^ The Commission
established technical standards that digital wireless handsets must
meet to be considered compatible with hearing aids operating in
acoustic coupling and inductive coupling (telecoil) modes.^
Specifically, the Commission adopted a standard for radio frequency
interference (the M3 rating) to enable acoustic coupling between
digital wireless phones and hearing aids operating in acoustic
coupling mode, ^ and a separate standard (the T3 rating) to enable
inductive coupling with hearing aids operating in telecoil mode.^ In
the 2008 Hearing Aid Compatibility First Report and Order, the
Commission established various deadlines by which manufacturers and
service providers were required to offer specified numbers of digital
wireless handset models rated hearing aid-compatible.^
3. The Commission also adopted reporting requirements to ensure that it
could monitor the availability of hearing aid-compatible handsets and
to provide valuable information to the public concerning the technical
testing and commercial availability of these handsets.^ The Commission
initially required manufacturers and digital wireless service
providers to report every six months on efforts toward compliance with
the hearing aid compatibility requirements for the first three years
of implementation, and then annually thereafter through the fifth year
of implementation.^ In its 2008 Hearing Aid Compatibility First Report
and Order, the Commission indefinitely extended these reporting
requirements with certain modifications.^
4. Northeast failed to timely file its hearing aid compatibility status
report for the period January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2011. The
required report was due on January 17, 2012.^ On or about September
20, 2012, Northeast, through its counsel, disclosed to the
Commission's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Wireless Bureau) that
Northeast had not met the January 17 deadline, and requested that the
Wireless Bureau open a filing window to permit the late filing of that
report. The Wireless Bureau opened a filing window on September 25,
2012, at which time Northeast filed its status report for 2011.^ The
Wireless Bureau subsequently referred Northeast's apparent violation
of the hearing aid compatibility status report filing requirement to
the Enforcement Bureau (Bureau).
5. On May 1, 2013, the Bureau's Spectrum Enforcement Division issued a
letter of inquiry (LOI) to Northeast, directing the company to submit
a sworn written response to a series of questions relating to
Northeast's failure to timely file its hearing aid compatibility
status report by the January 17, 2012 deadline.^ Northeast responded
on May 20, 2013.^ In its LOI Response, Northeast contends that its
failure to submit the report in a timely fashion was due to
"inadvertent oversight," and that it immediately addressed the problem
as soon as it was discovered.^
A. Failure to Timely File Hearing Aid Compatibility Status Report
6. Section 20.19(i)(1) of the Rules requires service providers to file
hearing aid compatibility status reports.^ These reports are necessary
to enable the Commission to perform its enforcement function and to
evaluate whether Northeast is in compliance with Commission mandates
that were adopted to facilitate the accessibility of hearing
aid-compatible wireless handsets. These reports also provide valuable
information to the public concerning the technical testing and
commercial availability of hearing aid-compatible handsets.^ As the
record in this case reflects, Northeast failed to timely file the
hearing aid compatibility status report due on January 17, 2012, in
apparent willful^ and repeated^ violation of Section 20.19(i)(1) of
A. Proposed Forfeiture
7. Under Section 503(b)(1)(B) of the Communications Act of 1934, as
amended (Act), any person who is determined by the Commission to have
willfully or repeatedly failed to comply with any provision of the Act
or any rule, regulation, or order issued by the Commission shall be
liable to the United States for a forfeiture penalty.^ To impose such
a forfeiture penalty, the Commission must first issue a notice of
apparent liability for forfeiture and the person against whom such
notice has been issued must have an opportunity to show, in writing,
why no such forfeiture penalty should be imposed.^ The Commission will
then issue a forfeiture if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence
that the person has violated the Act or the Rules.^ We conclude that
Northeast is apparently liable for a forfeiture for its failure to
timely file the required hearing aid compatibility status report in
apparent willful and repeated violation of Section 20.19(i)(1) of the
8. The Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Section 1.80(b) of
the Rules set a base forfeiture amount of $3,000 for the failure to
file required forms or information.^ While the base forfeiture
requirements are guidelines lending some predictability to the
forfeiture process, the Commission retains the discretion to depart
from these guidelines and issue forfeitures on a case-by-case basis
under its general forfeiture authority in Section 503 of the Act.^
9. We have exercised our discretion to set a higher base forfeiture
amount for violations of the wireless hearing aid compatibility
reporting requirements. In ASTCA, we found that the status reports are
essential to implement and enforce the hearing aid compatibility
rules.^ The Commission relies on these reports to provide consumers
with information regarding the technical specifications and commercial
availability of hearing aid-compatible digital wireless handsets and
to ensure that the digital wireless industry meets the needs of the
increasing number of consumers with hearing loss.^ In an analogous
context, we noted that when setting an $8,000 base forfeiture for
violations of the hearing aid-compatible handset labeling
requirements, the Commission emphasized that consumers with hearing
loss could only take advantage of critically important public safety
benefits of digital wireless services if they had access to accurate
information regarding hearing aid compatibility features of handsets.^
We also noted that the Commission has adjusted the base forfeiture
upward when noncompliance with filing requirements interferes with the
accurate administration and enforcement of Commission rules.^ Because
the failure to file hearing aid compatibility status reports
implicates similar public safety and enforcement concerns, we
exercised our discretionary authority and established a base
forfeiture amount of $6,000 for failure to file a hearing aid
compatibility report.^ Consistent with ASTCA, we believe the $6,000
base forfeiture for violation of the hearing aid compatibility
reporting requirement should apply here.
10. The $6,000 base forfeiture, however, is subject to adjustment. In
assessing forfeitures, Section 503(b)(2)(E) of the Act requires that
we take into account the "nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity
of the violation and, with respect to the violator, the degree of
culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and such
other matters as justice may require."^ In its LOI Response, Northeast
suggests that we consider its contention that its failure to timely
file was "inadvertent." We decline to do so. It is well established
that administrative oversight or inadvertence is not a mitigating
factor warranting a downward adjustment of a forfeiture.^ Similarly, a
violator's lack of knowledge or erroneous belief does not warrant a
forfeiture's downward adjustment.^ The severity of Northeast's
apparent violation, however, is slightly mitigated by its prompt
voluntary disclosure to Commission staff of the failure to timely file
and its remedial efforts, both of which preceded the Bureau's
investigation and the initiation of enforcement action.^ As such, we
find that, based on the particular circumstances of this case, some
reduction of the forfeiture is appropriate.^ In view of all the
factual circumstances presented, and having considered the statutory
factors enumerated above, we propose a forfeiture in the amount of
$5,400 against Northeast for failing to timely file its hearing aid
compatibility status report for the period ending December 31, 2011,
by the January 17, 2012 deadline, in apparent willful and repeated
violation of Section 20.19(i)(1) of the Rules.^
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
11. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and Sections 0.111, 0.311, and
1.80 of the Commission's rules,^ Northeast Telephone Services, Inc. is
NOTIFIED of its APPARENT LIABILITY FOR A FORFEITURE in the amount of
five thousand four hundred dollars ($5,400) for willful and repeated
violation of Section 20.19(i)(1) of the Commission's rules.^
12. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 1.80 of the
Commission's rules, within thirty (30) calendar days after the release
date of this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, Northeast
Telephone Services, Inc. SHALL PAY the full amount of the proposed
forfeiture, or SHALL FILE a written statement seeking reduction or
cancellation of the proposed forfeiture consistent with paragraph 15,
13. Payment of the forfeiture must be made by check or similar instrument,
wire transfer, or credit card, and must include the NAL/Account Number
and FRN referenced above. Northeast Telephone Services, Inc. shall
send electronic notification of payment to Pamera Hairston at
Pamera.Hairston@fcc.gov and to Samantha Peoples at Sam.Peoples@fcc.gov
on the date said payment is made. Regardless of the form of payment, a
completed FCC Form 159 (Remittance Advice) must be submitted.^ When
completing the FCC Form 159, enter the Account Number in block number
23A (call sign/other ID) and enter the letters "FORF" in block number
24A (payment type code). Below are additional instructions you should
follow based on the form of payment you select:
* Payment by check or money order must be made payable to the order of
the Federal Communications Commission. Such payments (along with the
completed Form 159) must be mailed to Federal Communications
Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000, or sent
via overnight mail to U.S. Bank - Government Lockbox #979088,
SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101.
* Payment by wire transfer must be made to ABA Number 021030004,
receiving bank TREAS/NYC, and Account Number 27000001. To complete
the wire transfer and ensure appropriate crediting of the wired funds,
a completed Form 159 must be faxed to U.S. Bank at (314) 418-4232 on
the same business day the wire transfer is initiated.
* Payment by credit card must be made by providing the required credit
card information on FCC Form 159 and signing and dating the Form 159
to authorize the credit card payment. The completed Form 159 must then
be mailed to Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St.
Louis, MO 63197-9000, or sent via overnight mail to U.S. Bank -
Government Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St.
Louis, MO 63101.
14. Any request for full payment under an installment plan should be sent
to: Chief Financial Officer - Financial Operations, Federal
Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, S.W., Room 1-A625,
Washington, DC 20554. If you have questions regarding payment
procedures, please contact the Financial Operations Group Help Desk by
phone, 1-877-480-3201, or by email, ARINQUIRIES@fcc.gov.
15. The written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the
proposed forfeiture, if any, must include a detailed factual statement
supported by appropriate documentation and affidavits pursuant to
Sections 1.80(f)(3) and 1.16 of the Commission's rules.^ The written
statement must be mailed to the Office of the Secretary, Federal
Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, DC
20554, ATTN: Enforcement Bureau - Spectrum Enforcement Division, and
must include the NAL/Account Number referenced in the caption. The
statement must also be emailed to Pamera Hairston at
Pamera.Hairston@fcc.gov and to Samantha Peoples at
Sam.Peoples@fcc.gov. The Commission will not consider reducing or
canceling a forfeiture in response to a claim of inability to pay
unless the petitioner submits: (1) federal tax returns for the most
recent three-year period; (2) financial statements prepared according
to generally accepted accounting practices; or (3) some other reliable
and objective documentation that accurately reflects the petitioner's
current financial status. Any claim of inability to pay must
specifically identify the basis for the claim by reference to the
16. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Notice of Apparent Liability
for Forfeiture shall be sent by first class mail and certified mail,
return receipt requested, to W. Michael George, Chief Executive
Officer, Northeast Telephone Service, Inc., P.O. Box 219, 6402 Howell
Avenue, Collinston, LA 71229, and to Harold Mordkofsky, Esq.,
Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Pendergast, LLP, Counsel to
Northeast Telephone Services, Inc., 2121 L Street, N.W., Suite 300,
Washington, D.C. 20037.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
John D. Poutasse
Chief, Spectrum Enforcement Division
^ Northeast Telephone Services, Inc. (formerly Northeast Telecom, Inc.) is
a Tier III mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that resells wireless
telecommunications services for Telispire PCS (Telispire). Telispire, in
turn, is an MVNO for, and is wholly-owned by, the National Rural
Telecommunications Cooperative. Tier III carriers are non-nationwide
wireless radio service providers with 500,000 or fewer subscribers as of
the end of 2001. See Revision of the Commission's Rules to Ensure
Compatibility with Enhanced 911 Emergency Calling Systems, Phase II
Compliance Deadlines for Non-Nationwide CMRS Carriers, Order to Stay, 17
FCC Rcd 14841, 14847-48, paras. 22-24 (2002). Northeast also holds a
Section 214 authorization for the resale of international long distance
service. See File No. ITC-214-19991029-00671 (granted Nov. 26, 1999).
^ 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(i)(1).
^ See Section 68.4(a) of the Commission's Rules Governing Hearing
Aid-Compatible Telephones, Report and Order, 18 FCC Rcd 16753 (2003),
Erratum, 18 FCC Rcd 18047 (2003), Order on Reconsideration and Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 20 FCC Rcd 11221 (2005) (Hearing Aid
Compatibility Order). The Commission adopted these requirements for
digital wireless telephones under the authority of the Hearing Aid
Compatibility Act of 1988, Pub. L. No. 100-394, 102 Stat. 976 (codified at
47 U.S.C. SS 609 note, 610, 610 note).
^ See Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 16777, 16779, paras.
56, 63; see also 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(b)(1)-(2). The Hearing Aid
Compatibility Order described the acoustic coupling and inductive coupling
(telecoil) modes as follows:
In acoustic coupling mode, the microphone picks up surrounding sounds,
desired and undesired, and converts them into electrical signals. The
electrical signals are amplified as needed and then converted back into
sound by the hearing aid speaker. In telecoil mode, with the microphone
turned off, the telecoil picks up the audio signal-based magnetic field
generated by the voice coil of a dynamic speaker in hearing aid-compatible
telephones, audio loop systems, or powered neck loops. The hearing aid
converts the magnetic field into electrical signals, amplifies them as
needed, and converts them back into sound via the speaker. Using a
telecoil avoids the feedback that often results from putting a hearing aid
up against a telephone earpiece, can help prevent exposure to over
amplification, and eliminates background noise, providing improved access
to the telephone.
18 FCC Rcd at 16763, para. 22.
^ See 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(b). As subsequently amended, Section 20.19(b)(1)
of the Rules provided that, for the period beginning January 1, 2010, a
wireless handset is deemed hearing aid-compatible for radio frequency
interference if, at a minimum, it meets the M3 rating associated with the
technical standard set forth in the standard document, "American National
Standard Methods of Measurement of Compatibility between Wireless
Communication Devices and Hearing Aids," ANSI C63.19-2007 (June 8, 2007)
(ANSI C63.19-2007), except that grants of certification issued before
January 1, 2010, under earlier versions of ANSI C63.19 remain valid for
hearing aid compatibility purposes. 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(b)(1). Section
20.19(b)(2) provided that, for the period beginning January 1, 2010, a
wireless handset is deemed hearing aid-compatible for inductive coupling
if, at minimum, it meets the T3 rating associated with the technical
standard set forth in ANSI C63.19-2007, except that grants of
certification issued before January 1, 2010, under earlier versions of
ANSI C63.19 remain valid for hearing aid compatibility purposes. 47 C.F.R.
S 20.19(b)(2). Effective August 16, 2012, a further amendment to Section
20.19(b) permits manufacturers to test handsets for hearing aid
compatibility using the 2011 version of the ANSI standard, ANSI
C63.19-2011, as an alternative to ANSI C63.19-2007. See Amendment of the
Commission's Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets, Third
Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 3732 (WTB/OET 2012).
^ See Amendment of the Commission's Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible
Mobile Handsets, First Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 3406, 3418-20, paras.
35-36 (2008), Order on Reconsideration and Erratum, 23 FCC Rcd 7249 (2008)
(Hearing Aid Compatibility First Report and Order).
^ See id. at 3443, para. 91; see also 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(i).
^ See Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 16787, para. 89; see
also Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Announces Hearing Aid
Compatibility Reporting Dates for Wireless Carriers and Handset
Manufacturers, Public Notice, 19 FCC Rcd 4097 (Wireless Tel. Bur. 2004).
^ See Hearing Compatibility First Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3444-46,
paras. 97-99, 101. The extensions of these reporting requirements became
effective on December 13, 2011. See 76 Fed. Reg. 77,415 (Dec. 13, 2011).
^ Service providers are required to file their hearing aid compatibility
status reports on January 15th of each year. See 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(i)(1).
However, because January 15, 2012 fell on a Sunday and January 16, 2012
was a federal holiday, the report was due the next business day, January
17, 2012. See id. S 1.4(e)(1) (defining "holiday" to include Sunday and
federal holidays); Id. S 1.4(j) (when a deadline falls on a holiday, the
deadline is extended until the next business day); see also Hearing Aid
Compatibility Status Reporting, http://wireless.fcc.gov/hac.
^ See Northeast Telephone Services, Inc., Hearing Aid Compatibility
Report (Sept. 25, 2012),
^ See Letter from John D. Poutasse, Chief, Spectrum Enforcement Division,
FCC Enforcement Bureau, to Michael George, Chief Executive Officer,
Northeast Telephone Services, Inc. (May 1, 2013) (on file in
^ See Letter from Harold Mordkofsky, Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy
& Prendergast, LLP, Counsel to Northeast Telephone Services, Inc., to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission (May 20,
2013) (on file in EB-SED-13-00006159) (LOI Response).
^ Id., Attachment at 1-2. Northeast also includes in its LOI response a
request--pursuant to Sections 1.3 and 1.925(b) of the Rules, 47 C.F.R. SS
1.3, 1.925(b)(3)--for waiver of the requirements of Section 20.19(i)(1) so
that we may treat its hearing aid compatibility status report as timely
filed. See LOI Response, Attachment at 3-4. The Bureau referred
Northeast's request for rule waiver to the Wireless Bureau. On September
20, 2013, the Spectrum and Competition Policy Division of the Wireless
Bureau denied Northeast's request for waiver of Section 20.19(i)(1). See
Northeast Telephone Services, Inc., Order, DA 13-1927 (Wireless Tel. Bur.
rel. Sept. 20, 2013) (finding that "Northeast's failure to familiarize
itself with the Commission's reporting requirements does not constitute a
unique or unusual circumstance that would justify waiving the January 17,
2012 filing deadline").
^ See 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(i)(1).
^ See Hearing Compatibility First Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3446,
para. 98 (stating that a handset model's hearing aid compatibility rating,
among other relevant information, "should be readily available to service
providers either from the manufacturer's previous reports to the
Commission, from the manufacturer's own website, or from the manufacturer
directly"). We note, however, that the Commission's Equipment
Authorization System is the most reliable source for information on a
handset's hearing aid compatibility rating. The Equipment Authorization
System is an electronic database of all equipment certified under
Commission authority. The database identifies the hearing aid
compatibility rating of each handset by FCC ID, as reported by the handset
manufacturer in test reports submitted to the Commission at the time of an
equipment authorization or of any modification to such authorization. See
^ Section 312(f)(1) of the Act defines "willful" as "the conscious and
deliberate commission or omission of [any] act, irrespective of any intent
to violate" the law. 47 U.S.C. S 312(f)(1). The legislative history of
Section 312 clarifies that this definition of willful applies to Sections
312 and 503 of the Act, H.R. Rep. No. 97-765 (1982) (Conf. Rep.), and the
Commission has so interpreted the term in the Section 503(b) context. See
So. Cal. Broad. Co., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4387,
4387-88, para. 5 (1991), recons. denied, 7 FCC Rcd 3454 (1992) (Southern
^ Section 312(f)(2) of the Act, which also applies to forfeitures assessed
pursuant to Section 503(b) of the Act, defines "repeated" as "the
commission or omission of [any] act more than once or, if such commission
or omission is continuous, for more than one day." 47 U.S.C. S 312(f)(2);
see also Southern California, 6 FCC Rcd at 4388, para. 5. Failure to file
these reports can have an adverse impact on the Commission's ability to
ensure the commercial availability of hearing aid-compatible digital
wireless handsets, to the detriment of consumers. As we have previously
stated, the failure to file a hearing aid compatibility status report
constitutes a continuing violation that persists until the violation is
cured. See ASTCA, supra note 26.
^ 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(i)(1).
^ 47 U.S.C. S 503(b)(1)(B); see also 47 C.F.R. S 1.80(a).
^ 47 U.S.C. S 503(b); 47 C.F.R. S 1.80(f).
^ See, e.g., SBC Communications, Inc., Forfeiture Order, 17 FCC Rcd 7589,
7591, para. 4 (2002).
^ 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(i)(1).
^ See The Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment of
Section 1.80 of the Rules to Incorporate the Forfeiture Guidelines, Report
and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 17087, 17113, Appendix A, Section I, recons. denied,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999) (Forfeiture Policy
Statement); 47 C.F.R. S 1.80.
^ See Forfeiture Policy Statement, 12 FCC Rcd at 17099, 17101, paras. 22,
29; see also 47 C.F.R. S 1.80.
^ See American Samoa Telecommunications Authority, Notice of Apparent
Liability for Forfeiture, 23 FCC Rcd 16432, 16436-37, para. 10 (Enf. Bur.
2008), forfeiture ordered, Forfeiture Order, 27 FCC Rcd 13174 (Enf. Bur.
2012) (forfeiture paid) (ASTCA).
^ See id.
^ See id.
^ See id.
^ See id.
^ 47 U.S.C. S 503(b)(2)(E).
^ See Southern California, 6 FCC Rcd at 4387 (stating that "inadvertence
... is at best, ignorance of the law, which the Commission does not
consider a mitigating circumstance").
^ See, e.g., Profit Enterprises, Inc., 8 FCC Rcd 2846, 2846, para. 5
(1993) (denying the mitigation claim of a manufacturer/distributor who
thought that the equipment certification and marketing requirements were
inapplicable, stating that its "prior knowledge or understanding of the
law is unnecessary to a determination of whether a violation existed ...
ignorance of the law is [not] a mitigating factor"); Lakewood Broadcasting
Service, Inc., 37 FCC 2d 437, 438, para. 6 (1972) (denying a mitigation
claim of a broadcast licensee who asserted an unfamiliarity with the
station identification requirements, stating that licensees are expected
"to know and conform their conduct to the requirements of our rules");
Kenneth Paul Harris, Sr., 15 FCC Rcd 12933, 12935, para. 7 (Enf. Bur.
2000) (denying a mitigation claim of a broadcast licensee, stating that
its ignorance of the law did not excuse the unauthorized transfer of the
station); Maxwell Broadcasting Group, Inc., 8 FCC Rcd 784, 784, para. 2
(Mass Med. Bur. 1993) (denying a mitigation claim of a noncommercial
broadcast licensee, stating that the excuse of "inadverten[ce], due to
inexperience and ignorance of the rules . . . are not reasons to mitigate
a forfeiture" for violation of the advertisement restrictions).
^ See 47 C.F.R. S 1.80(b)(8), Note to Paragraph (b)(8): Adjustment
Criteria for Section 503 Forfeitures (establishing "good faith or
voluntary disclosure" as a downward adjustment factor). The Forfeiture
Policy Statement affords us discretion to adjust forfeitures downward in
cases of voluntary disclosure. See The Commission's Forfeiture Policy
Statement and Amendment of Section 1.80 of the Rules to Incorporate the
Forfeiture Guidelines, Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 17087, 17100-01, para.
27 (1997), recons. denied, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 303
(1999) (Forfeiture Policy Statement); 47 C.F.R. S 1.80. But the Forfeiture
Policy Statement neither explains what constitutes voluntary disclosure
nor establishes a particular downward adjustment percentage. Forfeiture
Policy Statement, 12 FCC Rcd at 17100, para. 26 (expressly declining to
prescribe the amount of the voluntary disclosure adjustment and explaining
instead that the adjustment must reflect "the unique facts of each
case"). We emphasize the public interest benefits of express,
non-dilatory, and factually detailed noncompliance disclosures provided to
the Enforcement Bureau and coupled with immediate corrective action. In
this case, Northeast discovered the violation on September 14, 2012 and
notified the Commission on or about September 20, 2012. This type of
voluntary disclosure can timely reveal violations that the Commission
would otherwise be unlikely to discover, expedite resolution of the
resulting enforcement proceeding, and yield tangible benefits to the
disclosing party in terms of the forfeiture penalty applied. Of course,
the forfeiture we adopt in any particular case will always entail our
exercise of discretion based on the particular circumstances before us.
^ Even though Northeast notified the Wireless Bureau of the violation and
requested permission for the late filing of its report prior to the
Enforcement Bureau's investigation, Northeast filed the required report
approximately eight months after the filing deadline. Although we can
upwardly adjust a forfeiture based on the violation's duration (see 47
C.F.R. 1.80(b)), we refrain from doing so here. Prior enforcement actions
concerning the same type of violation (and, in some instances, for a
longer duration than here), have not always resulted in the upward
adjustment of the $6,000 base forfeiture amount. See, e.g., STi Prepaid,
LLC, Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 25 FCC Rcd 17836,
17839-45, paras. 6, 8, 18-20 (proposing $6,000 forfeiture for failing to
timely file hearing aid compatibility status report; reseller of wireless
services was 11 months late in filing report). We have previously warned
companies subject to the filing requirements that they must timely file
the reports or, if late, come into compliance immediately. We now further
warn Northeast and other parties subject to the digital wireless handset
hearing aid compatibility status report filing requirements of Section
20.19(i) that future violations of the requirement may be subject to an
upward adjustment of the $6,000 base forfeiture based on the duration of
^ 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(i)(1).
^ 47 U.S.C. S 503(b); 47 C.F.R. SS 0.111, 0.311, 1.80.
^ 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(i)(1).
^ An FCC Form 159 and detailed instructions for completing the form may be
obtained at http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf.
^ 47 C.F.R. SS 1.80(f)(3), 1.16.
(Continued from previous page)
Federal Communications Commission DA 13-1936
Federal Communications Commission DA 13-1936