FCC Eyes Big Pockets

Raises penalty levels for large companies

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The FCC clearly meant it when it signaled recently that it would be raising its penalty levels on those with greater abiity to pay, and the cable industry is getting the initial blunt of the financial blow.

Two weeks ago, the commission fined Time Warner/Newhouse $25,000 for failing to file its proof of performance test and children’s TV programming records in a timely fashion.

The base fine is $10,000, but the FCC said it was more than doubling it, in part based on the companies’ financial means.

Earlier in the month, the FCC proposed a $25,000 fine against TBS for a bogus Emergency Alert System warning in a promo for Conan. At the time, it signaled it would likely be imposing larger-than-base fines, in some cases much larger, on companies with deeper pockets so that fines would not be treated as simply the cost of doing business.

Time Warner officials claimed the operator was unable to produce the information immediately on request because the employee in charge was on leave that day.