Broadcasters permitted to cease tower light monitoring in certian cases

Broadcasters permitted to cease tower light monitoring
The FCC adopted new rules, effective March 7, 1996, that shifted the responsibility for tower lighting from licensees to the owner of the structure. In the past, licensees were required to:
[Observe] … the tower lights at least once each 24 hours either visually or by observing an automatic properly maintained indicator designed to register any failure of such lights, to insure that all such lights are functioning properly as required; or alternatively,
… provide and properly maintain an automatic alarm system designed to detect any failure of such lights and to provide indication of such failure to the licensee. [FCC Rules Sec. 17.47(a)]
… inspect at intervals not to exceed 3 months all automatic or mechanical control devices, indicators, and alarm systems associated with the tower lighting to insure that such apparatus is functioning properly. [FCC Rules Sec. 17.47(b)]
… report immediately … to the … Federal Aviation Administration any observed or otherwise known extinguishment or improper functioning of any top steady burning light or any flashing obstruction light, regardless of its position on the antenna structure, not corrected within 30 minutes. [FCC Rules Sec. 17.48]
… make … entries in the station record … [FCC Rules Sec. 17.49]
Now, the owner of the structure must perform all of these tasks. The FCC wrote, in WTB Fact Sheet #15, “Antenna Structure Registration” in the section on owner and licensee responsibilities:
Note: There IS NO requirement for an FCC licensee who does not own the structure to independently monitor antenna structure lighting.
In the Report and Order in WT Docket No 95-5, FCC 95-473, Released: November 30, 1995, the FCC discussed the licensee’s responsibilities as excerpted below (emphasis added):
53. We emphasize that under normal circumstances, we will only look to the structure owner to maintain the prescribed painting and/or lighting. However, in the event the structure owner is unable to maintain the prescribed painting or lighting, e.g., in cases including but not limited to abandonment, negligence, or bankruptcy, we would require that individual licensees on the structure undertake efforts to maintain painting and lighting upon request by the Commission. Additionally, if a tenant licensee has reason to believe that the structure is not in compliance or that the owner is not carrying out its responsibility to maintain the structure as required by Part 17 of the Rules, the licensee must immediately notify the owner, notify the site management company (if applicable), notify the Commission, and make a diligent effort to ensure that the antenna structure is brought into compliance. We are not, however, requiring licensees to independently monitor the antenna structure. Instead, licensees must assume responsibility and take appropriate action if circumstances would lead a reasonable person to question whether the structure is being maintained. For example, if a licensee becomes aware that electrical power is no longer available at the site or has rental payment for antenna space returned due to unavailability of the owner, the licensee must take reasonable actions to ensure that the structure is immediately brought into compliance. Under these circumstances, any sanction that may be directed to a licensee will be determined on a case-by-case basis depending upon the magnitude of noncompliance, its length of time, access of the licensee to the structure and the diligence of the licensee to rectify the noncompliance with the prescribed painting or lighting or to alert the Commission or the FAA.

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