Scripps to Pay More Than $1 Million to Settle Tower Lighting Case


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The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau and Scripps Broadcasting Holdings reached a settlement in a tower lighting investigation concerning Cordillera Communications, which Scripps acquired earlier this year. Scripps agreed to resolve the bureau’s investigation by paying a $1,130,000 civil penalty and abiding by a compliance plan to prevent further violations.

At issue was whether Cordillera’s tower obstruction lighting monitoring system worked. 

The bureau began its investigation when, on August 31, 2018, a small airplane crashed into a Cordillera television tower in Kaplan, Louisiana. Although the bureau found no evidence connecting the collision to a violation of the FCC’s rules by Cordillera, the Commission discovered what it calls “irregularities” related to the broadcaster’s compliance with the agency’s tower lighting rules.  

The agency then expanded its investigation to cover all of Cordillera’s towers. The 11 towers are: ASR 1000138 (Great Falls, Montana),  ASR 1000681 (Bozeman, Montana),  ASR 1001064 (Billings, Montana),  ASR 1018365 (San Luis Obispo, California), ASR 1020938 (Kaplan, Louisiana),  ASR 1043247 (Lexington, Kentucky),  ASR 1045870 (Blanconia, Texas),  ASR 1045871 (Robstown, Texas),  ASR 1055958 (Bishop, Texas),  ASR 1250854 (Billings, Montana), and  ASR 1254898 (Branch, Louisiana).

The agency investigated whether Cordillera failed to: conduct required daily inspections of the lighting systems of 10 towers, completely log 12 lighting outages at seven towers, and timely notify the Commission of its acquisition of two towers. 

Scripps agreed to pay the penalty within 30 days. The settlement ends the FCC’s investigation.  

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