For years, the Federal Communications Commission let broadcasters who exceed radio-frequency-radiation emission limits off with nothing more than a warning.
During the week of Nov. 18, however, the commission issued its first and second fines for RFR violations.
KTMN-FM Cloudcroft, N.M., was hit with a $10,000 fine for emissions 300 percent above permitted limits at its transmitter.
Four days later, KWNZ-FM Carson City, Nev., was dinged the same amount for emissions 42 percent above the permissible level.
Is this the start of a crackdown? Sort of. The agency is finally geared up to enforce emission limits set in 1996.
All FCC licensees were required to come into compliance with the new limits by Sept. 1, 2000, or notify officials about noncompliance and undergo environmental review by the agency to design a plan for meeting the new limits.
Neither station filed the assessment -- an indication that they would have no problem complying.
The FCC detected the violations after receiving complaints.
The violations were particularly troublesome to the FCC because both transmitters, although in remote areas, were accessed regularly by forest rangers in KTMN's case and drivers of all-terrain vehicles in KWNZ's.