• The FCC LED Signs Initiative

    In February 2019 the FCC issued an enforcement advisory out of concern over a “growing number of companies that market noncompliant light-emitting diode (LED signs) in violation of the FCC’s rules.” The FCC had an initial round of enforcement actions in July 2017.  Nineteen digital sign makers were fined.

    Insider has confirmed that the following sign manufacturers currently comply with the FCC’s LED rules:  Anthem, Daktronics, Formetco, Lightking, Media Resources,  Prismview (Samsung), Vantage and Watchfire.   Insider suggests that you avoid any manufacturer or marketer of digital billboards unless you can verify that its products comply with FCC LED rules.  Your company may not be fined but you can be ordered to turn off a digital billboard is if is not FCC compliant and if it interferes with public safety or wireless frequencies.

    The Kelley Drye Full Spectrum Podcast devoted a recent 18 minute episode to FCC enforcement actions against LED sign makers and retailers. Here are some excerpts from the podcast.

    Why is the FCC interested in LED signs?

    The signs emit radio waves that can interfere with communications services including public safety operations, and importantly, commercial wireless frequencies as well.  The FCC therefore requires LED signs and other…unintentional radiators to be tested for compliance…prior to being marketed for sale.

    So the core thing is I can test it my self and certify that I’m in compliance?

    That’s right, as long as you’re following the procedures that are set up by the FCC.

    On FCC enforcement

    In 2018 the FCC settled 21 investigations involving the marketing of LED signs using digital billboards for commercial or industrial applications without the required authorizations…The FCC issued letters of inquiry in July 2017…The violations highlighted in these settlements varied considerably across the four batches…Each of the targets paid a fine even though they appeared not to know the regulations and quickly obtained the necessary authorizations after being contacted.

    What advice do you have for manufacturers and marketing?

    Be sure contracts spell out FCC equipment authorization has been obtained and which entity is responsible for obtaining authorization…Contracts should contain clear indemnification provisions in the event that the equipment ends up being non-authorized.

    Does this impact the purchasers of LED signs?

    The FCC is currently focused only on the manufacturers and marketers of LED signs.  That covers this broad scope of people in the supply chain and the retain chain…it is not focused on purchasers or end users of LED signs.  These consumers normally don’t face liability…however, to the extent that an LED sign interferes with licensed communications, we mentioned public safety and commercial wireless…FCC field agents may request the end user to stop using the equipment.  If the user refuses to stop operations then he or she may face fines for intentional interference.

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    One Comment

    1. Public safety is a priority and compliance is important, providers should understand this.