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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Crown Communication, Inc. ) File No. EB-00-SJ-048
Owner of Antenna Structure ) NAL/Acct. No. X3268001
Registration # 1061395 )
Salinas, Puerto Rico )
Adopted: November 3, 2000 Released: November 7,
By the Chief, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Forfeiture Order (``Order''), we issue a
monetary forfeiture in the amount of ten thousand dollars
($10,000) to Crown Communication, Inc. (``Crown'') for willful
and repeated violation of Section 17.51(b) of the Commission's
Rules (``Rules'').1 The noted violation involves Crown's
failure to exhibit medium intensity obstruction lighting on
its Salinas, Puerto Rico antenna structure.
2. On July 7, 2000, the Commission's San Juan, Puerto
Rico, Resident Agent Office (``San Juan Office'') issued a
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (``NAL'') to Crown
for a forfeiture in the amount of ten thousand dollars
($10,000).2 Crown filed a response to the NAL on August 7,
3. Crown owns an antenna tower in Salinas, Puerto Rico,
with antenna structure registration (``ASR'') number 1061395.
The ASR for the Salinas tower indicates that medium intensity
obstruction lighting is required. On May 16, 2000, the
Federal Aviation Administration's (``FAA'') San Juan Flight
Service Station (``San Juan FSS'') advised the FCC's San Juan
Office of an expired Notice to Airmen (``NOTAM'')3 for the
Salinas tower. On May 25, 2000, agents from the San Juan
Office inspected the Salinas tower between the hours of 11:00
and 11:30 a.m. AST and observed that the tower's medium
intensity obstruction lighting was not operating. On May 26,
an agent from the San Juan Office again inspected the Salinas
tower at approximately 2:00 p.m. AST and observed that the
tower's medium intensity obstruction lighting was not
4. On May 30, 2000, an agent from the San Juan Office
contacted the San Juan FSS to find out whether there was a
NOTAM in effect for the Salinas tower. The San Juan FSS
informed the agent that there was no NOTAM in effect for this
tower. The agent then contacted Crown's National Network
Operating Center (``NOC''), which is Crown's central antenna
site monitoring office, and spoke with the supervisor, Mary
Duddenhoffer. The agent informed Ms. Duddenhoffer that the
Salinas tower's medium intensity obstruction lighting was out
and that there was no NOTAM in effect for this tower. Ms.
Duddenhoffer told the agent that Crown was unaware of the
lighting outage and that she would get a NOTAM issued
immediately and call back with a status report. Ms.
Duddenhoffer called the agent back later that day and informed
him that she had gotten a NOTAM issued for the tower and that
the NOC had received a call that morning from the landlord
informing them that the light on the Salinas tower was out.
5. On June 1, 2000, the San Juan Office issued a Notice of
Violation (``NOV'') to Crown for failing to exhibit the
required medium intensity obstruction lighting on the Salinas
tower in violation of Section 17.51(b) of the Rules. Crown
did not respond to the NOV.
6. On July 7, 2000, the San Juan Office issued an NAL for
a forfeiture in the amount of $10,000 to Crown for failing to
exhibit the required medium intensity obstruction lighting on
the Salinas tower in violation of Section 17.51(b) of the
Rules. Crown filed a response to the NAL on August 7, 2000.
In this response, Crown asserts that the forfeiture should be
reduced based on the circumstances surrounding the violation.
Crown states that when the Salinas tower first experienced a
light outage due to a problem with the control box on March
29, 2000, Crown's Puerto Rico Office notified the FAA and
opened a NOTAM. On April 13, 2000, Crown's NOC took over
handling the NOTAM procedures for the Salinas tower and
extended the first NOTAM because the control box was still
experiencing problems. Crown states that prior to the
expiration of this NOTAM, the NOC contacted the technician
repairing the control box at the Salinas site, who incorrectly
informed the NOC that the tower lights were in operation based
on his mistaken belief that the lighting of the red beacon at
the top of the tower was sufficient for the lighting on the
tower to be considered operational. Crown asserts that the
NOC therefore assumed that the tower lighting had been
restored and failed to extend the NOTAM again or open a new
NOTAM until May 30, 2000, when the FCC contacted the NOC and
informed it of the light outage. In addition, Crown cites its
actions taken in response to the violation as a mitigating
factor. Crown states that at the time of the light outage,
the Salinas site was not yet connected to the NOC's automatic
alarm systems because it is located in a remote area with no
telephone wirelines or reliable wireless service. Crown
therefore had to rely on visual monitoring of the Salinas
site. Crown states that the Salinas site is now connected to
the NOC, which allows it to monitor the site's lighting system
constantly through automatic alarms. Finally, Crown argues
that the forfeiture should be reduced based on its
``unblemished'' record as a tower owner and licensee.
7. As the NAL explicitly states, the forfeiture amount in
this case was assessed in accordance with Section 503 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended (``Act''),4 Section
1.80 of the Rules, 5 and The Commission's Forfeiture Policy
Statement and Amendment of Section 1.80 of the Rules to
Incorporate the Forfeiture Guidelines, 12 FCC Rcd 17087
(1997), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999) (``Policy
Statement''). In examining Crown's response, Section 503(b)
of the Act requires that the Commission 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 other such
matters as justice may require.6
8. Section 17.51(b) of the Rules provides that all high
and medium intensity obstruction lighting on antenna
structures must be exhibited continuously unless otherwise
specified in the ASR. We find that Crown willfully and
repeatedly violated Section 17.51(b) by failing to exhibit
medium intensity obstruction lighting on its Salinas tower as
required by its ASR.7
9. We disagree with Crown's assertion that the
circumstances surrounding the violation warrant a reduction in
the forfeiture. To the extent that Crown faults the
technician who incorrectly informed Crown's NOC that the
tower's lighting had been restored, we note that daily
observation of the Salinas tower would have alerted Crown to
the fact that the tower's lighting was still out. Section
17.47(a)(1) of the Rules requires tower owners to ``make an
observation of the antenna structure's lights at least once
every 24 hours either visually or by observing an automatic
properly maintained indicator designed to register any failure
of such lights.''8 It does not appear from the record before
us that any daily observation of the Salinas tower occurred
between April 28, the date the April 13 NOTAM would have
expired, and May 30, the date the FCC contacted Crown's NOC
and informed it of the lighting outage. Moreover, Crown's
remedial actions to correct the violation, while commendable,
are not a mitigating factor. See Station KGVL, Inc., 42 FCC
2d 258, 259 (1973). Finally, we reject Crown's argument that
its overall history of compliance with the Commission's rules
warrants mitigation of the forfeiture. Contrary to Crown's
claim that it has an ``unblemished'' record as a tower owner
and licensee, the Commission staff has issued at least seven
NOVs to Crown since March 2000, five for failure to display
the ASR number on a tower in violation of Section 17.4 of the
Rules,9 one for failure to repair or replace malfunctioning
tower lights as soon as practicable in violation of Section
17.56 of the Rules,10 and one for failure to make daily
observations of tower lighting and to notify the FAA upon
resumption of normal operation of tower lighting in violation
of Sections 17.47(a)(1) and 17.48(a) of the Rules.11 We
consider tower lighting violations to be very serious due to
the danger posed to aircraft. We are not persuaded that
Crown's overall history of compliance justifies a reduction in
10. We have examined Crown's response to the NAL pursuant
to the statutory factors above, and in conjunction with the
Policy Statement as well. As a result of our review, we
conclude that Crown has failed to provide sufficient
justification for canceling or mitigating the proposed
forfeiture amount. Therefore, we affirm the forfeiture of ten
thousand dollars ($10,000).
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
11. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section
503(b) of the Act,12 and Sections 0.111, 0.311 and 1.80(f)(4)
of the Rules,13 Crown Communication, Inc., IS LIABLE FOR A
MONETARY FORFEITURE in the amount of ten thousand dollars
($10,000) for failure to exhibit medium intensity obstruction
lighting on its antenna structure in willful and repeated
violation of Section 17.51(b) of the Rules.
12. Payment of the forfeiture shall be made in the manner
provided for in Section 1.80 of the Rules14 within 30 days of
the release of this Order. If the forfeiture is not paid
within the period specified, the case may be referred to the
Department of Justice for collection pursuant to Section
504(a) of the Act.15 Payment may be made by mailing a check
or similar instrument, payable to the order of the Federal
Communications Commission, to the Federal Communications
Commission, P.O. Box 73482, Chicago, Illinois 60673-7482. The
payment should note the NAL/Acct. No. referenced above.
Requests for full payment under an installment plan should be
sent to: Chief, Credit and Debt Management Center, 445 12th
Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.16
13. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Order shall
be sent by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to Crown
Communication, Inc., 375 Southpointe Boulevard, Canonsburg,
Pennsylvania 15317, and to its counsel, Marjorie G. Spivak,
Esq., Law Offices of Bennet & Bennet, PLLC, 1000 Vermont
Avenue, N.W., 10th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
David H. Solomon
Chief, Enforcement Bureau
1 47 C.F.R. § 17.51(b).
2 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, NAL/Acct. No.
X3268001 (Enf. Bur., San Juan Office, released July 7, 2000).
3 Tower owners are required to report any obstruction lighting
outages to the nearest Flight Service Station or FAA office
immediately if the outage is not corrected within 30 minutes.
See 47 C.F.R. § 17.48(a). The FAA then issues a NOTAM, a written
advisory to aircraft pilots regarding a hazard or potential
hazard of which they should be aware. A NOTAM expires
automatically after 15 days, unless the tower owner calls the FAA
to extend the NOTAM.
4 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).
5 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
6 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(D).
7 The term ``willfully'' as employed in Section 503 of the Act
does not require that the violation in question be intentional.
It is necessary only that the licensee knew it was doing the act
in question. See Southern California Broadcasting Co., 6 FCC Rcd
8 47 C.F.R. § 17.47(a)(1).
9 47 C.F.R. § 17.4. NOVs were issued to Crown for failure to
display the ASR number on a tower in violation of Section 17.4 of
the Rules by the New Orleans, Louisiana Field Office on August
31, 2000; by the Atlanta, Georgia Field Office on June 1, 2000;
by the Detroit, Michigan Field Office on May 24, 2000; by the San
Juan, Puerto Rico Resident Agent Office on April 10, 2000; and by
the Columbia, Maryland Field Office on March 7, 2000.
10 47 C.F.R. § 17.56. The Dallas, Texas Field Office issued
an NOV to Crown on August 30, 2000 for failure to repair or
replace malfunctioning tower lights as soon as practicable on its
antenna structure in Buffalo, Texas in violation of Section 17.56
of the Rules.
11 47 C.F.R. §§ 17.47(a)(1) and 17.48(a). The Dallas, Texas
Field Office issued an NOV to Crown on September 29, 2000 for
failure to make daily observations of tower lighting and to
notify the FAA upon resumption of normal operation of tower
lighting on its antenna structure in Buffalo, Texas in violation
of Sections 17.47(a)(1) and 17.48(a) of the Rules.
12 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).
13 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.311, 1.80(f)(4).
14 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
15 47 U.S.C. § 504(a).
16 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.