Some NALs (Notices of Apparent Liability), Forfeiture Orders, Notices of Violation (NOVs), and Consent Decrees issued by the MB (Media Bureau) or the EB (Enforcement Bureau) are worth taking a look.
Note: Clicking on the NAL amount takes you to the FCC Notice.
Clicking on the cited rule number will take you to the text of the rule.
12/6/11 – 73.3539 – Another late renewal fine raffirmed, this one exacerbated by a “red light’ violation – where a station owed the FCC money from a prior issue. KJCB’s license in Lafayette, LA ran out in 2004, when the station did not respond to the dismissal (See 7/22/11, below). In its appeal, the station also blamed the engineer. The NAL for $13k stands.
12/1/11 – 73.3539 – Apparently, Hope Broadcasting’s WFGN, Gaffney, SC, does not like to file forms with the FCC. The 2003 License Renewal Application was not filed until May 2011 – after the FCC notified the station the license had expired seven years before.
Unfortunatly, 2011 was when the next round of renewals for South Carolina were scheduled – and WFGN missed the August 1st deadline for this year by a month. The station was issued an NAL for $10k, reduced to $4.6k, but the FCC did approve the late 2003 renewal and accepted the current one.
11/30/11 – 73.3539 – WWLU (FM)Lincoln University, PA caught a break from the FCC in the $250 NAL issued for not filing their last renewal on time in 2006. Although the filing was almost three months late, it did come before the license actually expired. Another factor: WWLU is a Class D FM, hence the reduction to $250.
11/23/11 – 1.89 – An NOV was issued to K205DZ, a translator in Devore, CA. It appears the antenna, a directional, was found no longer pointed in the licensed direction. This is of interest in that similar notices were issued to the same translator in 2007 and 2009, and also noted the 10 Watt translator was operating at 11 Watts.
10/31/11 – 17.50, 73.49 – Failure to paint the tower cost WMID, Atlantic City, NJ an NAL for $20k. A tower fence gate was also found to be unlocked. The owner, Equity Communications, LP, was informed of the problem in April of 2010 and promised correctionsd. However, but seven months later there was no correction and the gate was found unlocked again.
10/31/11 – 73.1745 – Another station failed to lower power at sunset and received an NAL for $4k. KPIO, Loveland, CO. The FCC indicated the 7 kW station was running about 1.5 kW day and night. The engineer for the Catholic Radio Network station indicated there was a defective base current meter and remote control.
10/24/11 – 11.35, 73.1690, 73.3527 – A 12-Watt Non-Comm station received an NAL for $22k for not having a Public File, no operating EAS receiver – and having moved the transmitter a half-mile without authorization. RJ’s Late Night Entertainment Company’s Highland Park, MI station (WHPR-FM) said they thought a short move did not require FCC authorization, and blamed the lack of a Public File on a local library closing “several years ago.”
10/20/11 – 73.3539 – Several failures to renew licenses on time brought some stiff fines this week. WQTQ, Hartford, CT received an NAL for $7k for operation from April 2006 to September 2010 without any authorization.The Hartford Board of Education said it either forgot to renew, or thought it did (!). The FCC did waive about $10k of potential fines.
WRAN-LP in Randolph, VT also operated four years without a license. The assessment on this low power station was for an NAL of $500.
Salmon River Communications in Salmon, ID, did not do quite as well. Not only did its two stations operate for five years after the licenses expired in October 2005, but the STA issued for them to operate while correcting matters was allowed to expire in May. The station KSRA (AM) received an NAL for $13k, as did KSRA-FM, a total of $26k.
10/20/11 – Operating past the Post-Sunset Authority resulted in a $4k Forfeiture Order to Clarion Country Broadcasting’s WKQW, Oil Town, PA. The infractions occurred in late 2008. (It must be assumed the reference to “FM Station WKQW” was a typo!)
10/18/11 – There was no fine issued on this one, but the FCC made a point of shutting down a translator that caused interference to a co-channel station. (And providing free cell phones did not impress the FCC.)
While it was not the focus of this Notice, the FCC also pointed out that a translator has to protect regular listeners, even outside a station’s licensed contour (top of page 3/footnote 6).
10/3/11 – 73.3539 – Yet another NAL for late renewal reminds stations that the burden of compliance is on each station. The authorization for WPRX in Bristol, CT expired in April 2006. However, no renewal application (nor STA) was filed until until the Commission wrote to WPRX four and a half years later.
The arguments that the failure was unintentional and they did not get any reminders because they changed their mailing address did not move the Commission. An NAL for $7k stands, with a reminder that it is the licensee who bears all burdens for compliance.
9/26/11 – 73.3539 – A trio of late renewals and subsequent unauthorized operation brings a total of NALs adding up to $8k (marked down from $39,000) for an FM station and two translators. WSBU (FM) at St Bonaventure, NY, K292BA, Dubois, WY, and K232CZ, Winona, MN all operated for some four or five years after their license period.
In each of these cases, the FCC did not designate them as “serious violations,” knocking the fine for the translators down to $500 each. However, it is clear that failure to file the renewal applications on time is getting more attention, and will not get a full “pass” from the Commission.
Agents noted inoperative EAS equipment, an incomplete Public File, and an STL not being operated from its authorized location. Excuses of “not willful,” “the former employee did it,” and “we can’t afford that much” were not accepted.
9/13/11 – 17.48, 73.3526 – A dark tower led to a $10k NAL (reduced from $13k) to WOXD-FM in Oxford, MS. When the FCC turned up to investigate a report that no lights were working, they learned the failure had been ongoing for about six weeks. When the agents asked for the Public File, the station could not find one.
The station contended that there were other, higher towers in the area, hence no need to notify the FAA. Taylor Communications’ president claimed he was unaware of the missing Public File until the inspection, and laid blame on a previous station manager, who was accused of stealing it. The former manager’s story was “the FCC Public Inspection File could not be located” after a renovation six months before.
9/8/11 – 73.1745, 73.3526 – Another large NAL, for $14k, landed on KGLA, Gretna, LA. The station’s GM admitted the daytime station “had been operating at reduced power throughout the night for several years.” A Public File missing station authorizations and eight Issues & Programs list pretty much sealed the issue. Possibly the lack of the station authorization was why the station had the “mistaken belief that it was authorized to broadcast at night.”
The FCC denied all the arguments from Crocodile Broadcasting Corp, including the excuse that they did not mean to violate the Rules, but had failed “to carefully read [sic] the letter from the Media Bureau” denying an STA request for night time operation.
9/7/11 – 73.1660 – When the FCC calls, saying you are intefering with FAA transmissions, it is not a good idea to refuse them. Twice. And while using a non-certified transmitter.
The NAL for $12k received by Power Ministries’ WRLE-LP in Dunnellon, FL makes it clear that even low power transmitters can cause destructive interference – and why you need to listen when the FCC is at the door. The $5k fine for the use of a non-certified transmitter was augmented by $7k for the “obstruction” by station personnel.
8/11/11 – 73.3527 – Two more non-comm stations have run afoul of the Public File Rules and received Forfeiture Orders from the FCC. Southern Adventist University’s WSMC-FM in Collegedale, TN and Texas Educational Broadcasting Coop’s KOOP (FM) in Hornsby, TX both self-reported on their renewal forms that they had not kept the Public File properly up to date. Additionally KOOP was in violation by having excessive foreign voting interest on their board.
Both stations sought cancellation or reduction of the fines, arguing that they had many changes of management and they had reconstructed the missing Issues & Programs lists. The FCC was not amused, considering as many as 22 Issues & Programs lists were involved at one station. But they did reduce both fines. WSMC’s got a $2000 reduction and an NAL for $8k, while KOOP saw a $6300 reduction and an NAL for $8.7k.
8/4/11 – 73.3527 – It seems college stations particularly are often “caught” in the self-reporting questions on renewal forms. Perhaps it is due to their being honest and truthful, perhaps it is because student operations are more susceptible to missing Issues & Programs lists. Either way, an NAL for $9k went to WUSC-FM, Columbia, SC for violations in 1996-99.
8/3/11 – 73.3539 – Filing license renewal applications on time continues to be something on which the FCC does not give ground. The federal cash register rings up $3k for failing to file and $10k for operating for four years after the license expired. WPRX, Bristol, CT, is another of those cases where the station never got around to filing until the FCC informed them in 2010 that their license had expired in 2006 and the call letters deleted. The station’s response? They said they did not get the renewal reminder postcard in 2005.
The Commission notes that it is the licensees responsibility to know when their license expires and file accordingly, postcard or no. However, they found “factors” and policy to reduce the NAL to $7k, a $6k reduction on the $10k fine for operating without a license.
8/3/11 – 73.3539 – Even missing the filing deadline by a “few months” is not acceptable. Applied Life Ministries in Hot Springs, AR, originally won a reduction from $7k to an NAL of $5.6k, but the Commission declined to accept any further adjustments and affirmed the fine for filing five months late.
8/1/11 – 73.3598 – Not only for license renewal, but there are penalties for late filings of Form 302 (Application for License, filed after a construction under a CP (Construction Permit) is completed. WKLC in St. Albans, WV, somehow did not remember to file their 302 on a CP that expired in July 2007. WKLC apparently discovered the omission while preparing their license renewal, due June 1, 2011.
The EB noted that in addition to the $3k fine for late filing of the 302, the four years of operation without a license was subject to a $10k fine. This was reduced to $4k and an NAL for $7k was issued in this case.
7/29/11 – 73.3526 – In a variation on the “my dog ate my homework” excuse, HK Media’s KFOX in Torrance (LA), CA, claimed water damage destroyed their Public File in May 2010. However, in late September 2010, during an inspection by the EB, no one could locate a Public File. The NAL for $10k notes that the station started to recreate the Public File the week after the inspection – which was not considered a good enough excuse.
7/25/11 – 73.1212, 317, and 507 – Emmis Communications made a voluntary contribution of $12k to the US Treasury as they signed off on a Consent Decree regarding KROX-FM in Buda (Austin), TX. The station had been tagged for possible payola charges in 2007 relating to the station and a show host receiving “valuable consideration” from artists who wanted to get airplay.
7/22/11 – 73.3539 – Renewal issues cost KJCB(AM), Lafayette, LA, an NAL for $13k. When the renewal was filed two weeks late in 2004, it was dismissed due to a delinquent debt to the Commission. Apparently, the station did nothing until the FCC notified them in April 2010 that they were operating a deleted station. In the meantime, another station filed a CP that assumed the then DKJCB was history.
The station finally filed a renewal application in June 2010 – but continuing to broadcast for nearly a year more, a total of six years without a license. The EB ticked them $3k for the original failure to file properly, and $10 for, essentially, being a pirate for six years.
7/19/11 – 11.35, 73.49, 73.3526 – The EB has issued another NAL for $25k. WGTM in Wilson, NC was found upon inspection to have no Public File, no EAS equipment, and an open fence around an energized tower. A series of apparently conflicting statements led the EB to assess $8k for the EAS Violation, $7k for the unlocked or missing tower fence, and $10k for the missing Public File.
Last December, the FCC agent made several attempts to inspect the station’s Public File, but found the station locked. When someone was finally found, it was an announcer who could not produce a complete Public File, saying the owner was in Mexico for another 10 days. A return visit and … yep … no station owner. According to the NAL, the agent was told the owner would return “sometime in January.”
The EB agent was not amused and the fine was factored up from $17k to $25k.
6/29/11 – 73.3527 – Colby-Sawyer College’s WSCS (FM), New London, NH received an NAL for $10k for Public File violations – 14 missing Issues & Programs filings. Blaming it on the student operators was a non-starter; the Commission noted the responsibility for such matters is with the licensee. Thus the buck – all 10,000 of them – apparently will stop there.
Two aspects of this are worth noting: 1) Although the fine came late – more than a year after the event, the EB switched the actual infraction from “late filing” to “Willful operation without a license,” and 2) The station claimed it “thought” its electronic application was accepted when the FCC site “validated” the application. The EB holds that it is not their fault when the applicant makes an error in the filing procedure. However, the EB did reduce the fine from $7k to $4k.
6/23/11 – 73.3539, 73.3526, and Section 301 – The EB is showing no tolerance for late renewal applications. An NAL for $12.8k was delivered to Manuel Huerta, owner of WJHX, Lexington, AL. It appears he was three weeks late.
The EB noted that under Section 301, he was operating an unauthorized station by not having filed to renew. The renewal application also included a confession that no Issues & Programs lists were placed in the Public File for two years. The fine was reduced by $3,200 upon petition, but is still a reminder that as the renewal dates come, they are not to be missed!
6/20/11 – 73.3526 WLSW, Scottdale, PA was tagged with an NAL for $15k for missing quarterly Issues & Programs lists. The station claimed that “a person or persons had gone through the file and that some items had been removed…. ” The station committed to replacing or constructing new files to replace the missing ones.
The problem was that a year later, Issues & Programs lists were still missing. For ignoring the results of the FCC inspection, WLSW got a 50% increase in the fine.
6/7/11 – 73.3527 KSLC(FM) Linfield College in McMinnville, OR received an NAL for $8k for failing to keep the Public File up to date. It appears that the fine, reduced from $10k, was triggered when KSLC told on itself: on their last renewal form they certified that items from 1999-2001 were missing from the station’s Public File. This “gotcha” from the renewal form tends to play right into the EB lawyers’ hands.
6/1/11 – 17.51, 17.48 Big Fish Broadcasting received a $7k Forfeiture Order for failing to maintain tower lights on two separate towers. An FCC inspector found the lights out and power turned off over a period of over six months. Additionally, Big Fish had not notified the FAA until after the FCC inspection. The original fine was $20k, but was reduced due to alleged inability to pay.
5/26/11 – 73.3526 (UPDATED!) The Public File was the subject of four different NALs this week so far. Della Jane Woofter got an NAL for her station in Glenville, WV, WVRW. It seems that Ms. Woofter had neglected the Issues & Programs lists for nine quarters. The cash register at the EB rings up another $10k.
Apparently not to be outdone, Stephen Peters at WHAW, Lost Creek, WV, did not have any Issues & Programs lists in the file. The NAL for this one was also $10k.
Over in Washington, NC, Media East LLC received an NAL for $10k for not having a complete Public File – that is, anything after 2006. The manager was said to have thought the rest of the file was at the company’s headquarters in Statesville, NC. – only about 250 miles by road. The agent was not amused and the EB affirmed a $10k NAL.
And if that was not enough, Blue Skies’ KSKT-CA in San Marcos (Escondido), CA apparently had no Issues & Programs list since the station was licensed in 2001. For almost ten years of failing to do the lists, the EB assessed $14k.
5/19/11 – 73.1350, 73.3526 – Entertainment Media Trust drew two fines today from the EB for infractions at two sets of sister stations in the St. Louis, MO area. KZQZ was found to not be switching directional patterns, and with sister KQQZ missing Public Files and NRSC measurements. That cost $25k. On the other side of the Mississippi, more missing Public Files at WQQX and WQQW added another $24k to the tab.
5/17/11 – 11.35, 73.1400(a), 73.3526 – Poverty saved this station from a total of $21k in fines. The NAL for $5.5k was issued after WCLM, Highland Springs, VA pleaded their inability to pay the full amount for not having a functioning EAS receiver, remote control and Public File. According to the station, their remote control had been out of service for over a year.
5/17/11 – 73.49, 73.3526, 11.35 – Another case of failing to maintain the fence around an AM tower. Station personnel admitted the fence had been missing for “about a year.” Lack of a Public File and no EAS receiver for over 60 days added to the faults at WIRJ, Humbolt, TN. The NAL will cost WIRJ $25k.
5/16/11 – 73.1125, 73.1745(a), 73.3526 – KVOZ, Del Mar Hills, TX, racked up a $21k NAL for violations of the Main Studio and Public File Rules and operating at a major variance from the station authorization. The 10 kW/day, 1 kW/night station was operating a 3 kW around the clock “for several months.”
5/4/11 – 73.35 & 73.1125(a) – WLBH-FM in Mattoon, IL, was cited for having tower fencing that was falling down or missing around a four-tower DA. Also, no one was at the Main Studio when the FCC came calling, nor did anyone answer the telephone (which did not have voicemail). Together, a fine of $14k was assessed.
3/23/11 – 73.3539(a), Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934 – KWTS-FM, Canyon, TX was let off on a fine for filing their renewal application late, but got dinged anyway because of not having an STA for the operations when they had no license. All in all, it cost $3,200, plus lawyers fees on that one.
2/17/11 – 73.1206 – The FCC Enforcement Bureau apparently is trying to make a statement of some sort. This time a $25k fine was issued, to the Spanish Broadcasting Systems WZNT, San Juan, PR, for broadcasting two prank phone calls without the recipient knowing and giving consent.
One of the reasons given (paragraph 7) for the relatively high fine is that this is not the first time SBC has been before the FCC for this reason. WXJD, WSKQ, and WCMQ also have received fines for similar infractions. The footnote 36 shows how the fines have escalated from the base $4k in a violation going back ten years.
2/7/11 – 73.3527(c) – KCET-TV, Los Angeles, collected a $10k NAL (Notice of Liability for Forfeiture) from the FCC for demanding a member of the public make an appointment to see the stations’ Public File.
1/31/11 – 11.35(a) – Even as FEMA mulls the Alaska EAN test, the FCC EB issues a $10k fine against WWRR Scranton, PA. It seems this station had no EAS receiver from 2006 until well after an inspection – despite a note in the maintenance log in 2008 noting the non-compliant status of the station. The FCC NAL is here.
12/3/10 – A couple of interesting proposed forfeitures this week:
1. 73.1125(a) – A $10,000 forfeiture has been proposed for Pennsylvania station WQOR, cited for not having a “meaningful management and staff presence.” The station was visited and advised of the Main Studio Rule Violation, but did nothing at all. A subsequent visit three weeks later found exactly the same conditions. A “Director and Officer” of the station was contacted – and told the agent “she was not aware of the main studio requirement… ” The FCC Notice of Apparent Liability is located here.
2. 73.1745(a) – A $6,000 forfeiture has been proposed for KCKX, OR, which did not lower power at sunset from 1000 Watts to 15 Watts as required. The station owner told this agent that he knew he was required to reduce power under Section 73.1745(a), but “it was too expensive” to do it.
11/12/10 – 11.35(a) – In one of the more bizarre NALs (Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture), the EB has tagged station KANR, Belle Plaine, Kansas for not having an operational EAS box for somewhere between four and ten years.
According to the response to the FCC, KANR disconnected the power cord to their EAS “sometime between the year 2000 and the year 2006 and had remained inoperable since then.” The station had no idea when its last EAS test was conducted.
17.47, 17.50, 73.3526 – The inattention to following the FCC Rules was also noted in their failure to renew the paint on the tower or make the daily observation of the tower lights, which were either dark or not flashing. (The station “offered” an observation was made sometime during the daytime!) And then there is the little matter of a Public File that was missing the required Issues/Programs lists the past two years.
8/25/10 -The FCC has released news of a couple of fines this week that, if nothing else, offer a few things for stations and engineers to put on their list to “check” for compliance:
1. a station in Santa Monica, CA was cited for not monitoring the proper stations for EAS purposes. KCRU had apparently changed from the assigned stations, but never checked with the state and local coordinating committees.
2. a contest was ruled bad because the station, WWEG(FM) had picked a winner before the stated end of the contest – and sure enough, a listener showed up and after not being allowed to enter the contest, filed a complaint with the FCC. The upshot: a $4000 fine. WWWK pulled an $8500 fine for not having the Main Studio manned during business hours and EAS gear that did not work.