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.
12/19/13 – 73.3526 – When the old hands tell you not to lie to the FCC – even if it gets you in trouble – that really is the best practice. Often the FCC will work with a company that is not hiding anything, and is working to fix a problem. On the other hand, if after two years, the violation continues, and the station checks “no” on the Renewal Application when it asks the station to certify that it has been doing what is required, an NAL for Forfeiture is going to happen. This week, it is KBAA in Grass Valley, CA that got an NALF for $10k. The good news is that their License Renewal was granted.
12/5/13 – EEO is one of the touchiest as most annoying requirements placed on stations. License renewals get held up and/or fines are assessed for missing even minor parts of the EEO “dance.” Clear Channel’s Chicago cluster was been issued an NAL for Forfeiture for $20k – largely for failing to notify all organizations requesting job opening information. The EB says they violated procedure in 33 of 36 hires in a two year period – in some cases missing as few as three organizations. There is also a regular “self-assessment” requirement. No wonder EEO problems and complexities drive many stations to take a deep breath and write checks to their DC attorneys for navigation of the EEO Rules and procedures.
12/2/13 – The FCC issued a list of eight radio stations in California that did not file renewal applications and, if they are still on the air, are unauthorized. Fines may follow.
11/18/13 – 73.3539 – Being ill is not sufficient reason for being late with a license renewal, but the FCC is not totally heartless, they want you to know. Stations KELG, Manor TX, KOKE, Pflugerville, TX, and KTXZ, West Lake Hills TX, were two months late in filing their renewal, and two weeks late in requesting an STA when the licenses terminated. The Memorandum and Opinion and NAL for $18k notes the late filing and unauthorized operation could have totalled $39k, but they discounted it by $21k.
11/14/13 – 74.1234 – A rather complex series of filings related to translators, moving, CPs, STAs, and co-channel interference uncovered the fact that Apple 107.1 Inc. in New York City had no access nor control of a translator outside of business hours. The NAL for $3k did not affect the rest of the issues, where Apple 107.1’s requests prevailed.
11/5/13 – 11.45 – The FCC finally has issued more than a mere Public Notice regarding the use of EAS tones (and sound alikes) in ads, promos, and programning. Bottom line: it is illegal. An NAL with a rather large fine – $25k has been assessed to Turner Broadcast for violating this rule. Turner claims it ‘wasn’t exactly’ EAS tones
11/5/13 – 11.45 – Meanwhile, the FCC has allowed Bowling Green, KY station WNKY(DT) to escape an NAL with a consent decree. While WNKY did admit using EAS tones, and it appears they did take action to stop the violation, but it was in a local commercial. Therefore, to close the books, the station agreed to $39k as a “voluntary contribution” to reduce the US Debt.
If you are still not sure how serious the FCC considers this (Do not even think of running the old “musical EBS Test!”) … check this and also this one. The Commission has apparently encouraged the regional heads to send out these last two to local SBE chapters.
11/5/13 – 303(q), 17.47, 17.48, 17.51 – Another Alaskan tower owner fell afoul of the FCC rules regarding daily verification of proper operation and received an NAL and Forfeiture Order for $10k. The key issues: lights were out, but no NOTAM was filed with the FAA. An operator is required to visually inspect tower lights every 24 hours, unless an automated system is in place to do so (with an alarm when the system fails). ACS Wireless did not, and is being asked to pay.
11/4/13 – 302(b) – A proceeding from 2009 has culminated in a Forfeiture Order to Richfield Electronics (China) for $18k for producing and selling FM transmitters that violated the Rules.
11/1/13 – 303(q), 17.21, 17.23, 17.57 – The FCC looks dimly (pun intended) upon towers that do not light as required. Johnson Towers Corp in Pinellas Park, FL had three towers. They requested to light only one, and that was granted. However, the lit tower was “accidently knocked down in 2006.” Six years later, an FCC Field Agent responded to an expired NOTAM and found two towers with no lights. Over the next year and a half, the agent noted that, despite his warnings, the towers were still not lit. The NAL and Forfeiture Order for not updating the registration was tripled to $9k. Each remaining tower was cited for willful and repeated, for the maximum allowed, $112.5k. Total: $234k. It will take a lot of tower rentals to cover that.
The rest of the story: You know there has to be more, right? This was a three-tower AM DA that lost one of its towers, according to the STA form, when a housing construction worker clipped a guy wire and killed a tower. The DA reduced power to maintain monitor points – and the station owner is in good shape with the FCC. The landowner has been in extensive litigation with the county to get a permit to rebuild the tower, for seven years. The AM station continues to explore its options with the remaining two towers.
The FCC’s beef – the lack of tower lights – stands, since the tower owner could have (should have) installed lights on the remaining towers but chose not to do so.
10/29/13 – 73.3526 – A Forfeiture Order for $8k (reduced from $10k) was issued to KUKY in Welton, AZ for not having the Public Information File available. The Commission did accept an excuse that the employee did not fully understand the request due to a language issue and did not direct the Field Agent to the local library, where the PIF was located.
10/29/13 – 73.1125(a) – Another Forfeiture Order in an older case was issued to WQOR, Olyphant, PA had its $10,000 forfeiture reduced to $1.5k for the violation of Main Studio rule (See 12/3/10, below) due to inability to pay. However, the Commission did point out that repeated violations would not get similar reductions.
10/28/13 – 73.3526 – Telling the FCC on the License Renewal for that you did not place six sets of Issues & Programs lists in the Public Information File (18 months) is not going to bring a commendation for honesty. About the only positive for the station was the FCC’s NAL for $4k issued to WMKG-CA was discounted from $10k.
10/25/13 – 17.57 – When you transfer the ownership of a tower, it must be reported to the FCC. That less will cost Coastal Television Broadcasting Co of Anchorage, AK an NAL for $4.2k. The fine was adjusted up due to the four and a half year delay in notification. In fact, the listed contact on file had not been valid for 10 years.
10/25/13 – There is no better indication that the Sheriff is back in town than the return of NALs to the FCC’s Daily Actions. And the flow has begun.
10/25/13 – 301 – “Willful and Repeatedly” was the key to the more than doubling of a fine to a trio of stations that moved STLs without authorization. Four Corners Broadcasting in Durango, CO. moved the STLS for three stations 0.6 mile from the licensed site and operated for 6 years without filing proper applications for relocation. The NAL for $25k more than doubled the $4k per STL fine.
10/24/13 – 73.62, 73.1560, 73.1745, 73.3526 – The bill has arrived for Steckline Communications KQAM and KSGO in Wichita, KS (The NOV was issued 12/14/12 – see below) and the NALs have now been released. A total of $42k in fines were issued for a whole series of violations by these two directional AM stations. The litany of violations and the tab for KQAM is here, as is the KSGO bill.
9/27/13 – 73.1015, 73.3526 – A snapshot of what TV stations are dealing with – and radio may soon be in the same boat. Abundant Life Broadcasting’s K20JX-D failed to place certain documents in its Public Information File – now on line for television stations. It failed to respond to FCC inquiries and netted a Forfeiture Order for $14.4k, reduced from $16k.
9/27/13 – The FCC continues issuing a long series of NALs for Class A TV stations failing to file a timely report on Children’s Television. Some are as high as $20k, and there are also licensing implications.
9/25/13 – 73.3527 – With all the publicity given to FCC enforcement of Public File requirements, it is somewhat surprising that we still see regular examples of failure to be in compliance. Today’s FCC notices include an NAL for $12k issued to KGLP in Gallup, NM, for missing 21 quarters of Issues and Programs Lists from their Public File. The Commission increased the fine to Gallup Public Radio from $10k to recognize the “extensive” nature of the violation – there was also a short (4 year) renewal.
9/18/13 – 73.3539 – When the FCC says to file applications on time, they do not kid around. DWHEW (the “D” stands for Deleted) in Franklin, TN, not only received an NAL for $7k, but had their license revoked. This follows the station missing several filing deadlines, even after an STA was granted. Curiously, the FCC still showed enormous patience, allowing a reinstatement of the license if they pay the forfeiture and file the necessary paperwork. The story is not over yet!
9/11/12 – 303(q), 17.47, 17.48, 17.51 – The FCC expects tower owners to know any lighting requirements are being met – and prompt notification to the FAA when failures occur. Failing to either visually inspect the lights each day or install a working alarm system on at 55.8m tower – and then not notifying the FAA doubled an NAL to $20k to GCI Communication Corp in Fairbanks, AK. The Commission noted the company has “annual revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars” – and increased the fine to send a message they do not want such fines to be “a cost of doing business.”
9/6/13 – 73.3573, 73.5005 – In general, if the FCC sets a deadline for filing an application, applicants should not think of them as “serving suggestions.” Even missing the date by one day could have financial repercussions. Two NALs, each for $3k, issued today demonstrate that point, one of the was for missing the deadline by just one day.
8/30/13 – 11.56, 11.52 – It is not enough to have a CAP-enabled EAS box. You have to plug it in. That appears to be the essence of the NOV issued to WZOT in Rockmart, GA. Over a year past the requirement to have the EAS-CAP receiver on line, the Field Agent noted that “The required CAP-formatted EAS equipment was not connected to a power source.”
8/1/13 – 73.1125, 73.3526 – Cochise Broadcasting’s KOMJ in Omaha, NE was hard to find when the field agent tried to inspect it on August 1st. In fact, according to the FCC, the agent could not find the Main Studio of Ted Tucker’s operation. The station’s webpage gave no location; the “local phone number” transferred to a recording for stations in Arizona. The FCC records showed a Wyoming Post Office Box, and the contact number was an attorney in Virginia. The studio location given by the attorney turned out to belong to another company, which said the Main Studio was not there. Nor was the Public Information File. The NOV issued to Cochise Broadcasting directs the company to identify its Main Studio location.
8/1/13 – 11.21, 11.15, 11.35, 73.3526, 73.1870, 73.1590 – KCID in Caldwell, ID was a bit shy of required paperwork when a field agent visited their studios in Boise. Accordingly an NOV was issued. There was no current EAS plan in the Control Room with CAP information; there was no EAS Operating Handbook on hand either; the Sage Endec was not connected to the Internet, so it was unable to access CAP messages; the most recent Issues and Programs List was not in the Public Information File; there was no Chief Operator designation in writing; a current Equipment Performance Measurement report was not on hand.
7/30/13 – 73.1212 – An unusual Consent Decree was released today, requiring a $15k donation to the US Treasury, having admitted to running commercials with the identity of the sponsor concealed. Additionally, Townsquare Media (successor to Regent Broadcasting of El Paso) also will need to administer a complex plan to prevent a repeat of the infraction, including staff training and dismissal of anyone who violates the rule in the future. (Basically, the stations ran spots for “The Cigarette Outlet” but left out the word “cigarette.”
7/24/13 – 301 – Do you have an license for your rf STL? Are you sure? Jeannine Mason’s station KTZZ in Conrad, WY operated for over a year without one until an FCC Field Agent noticed the unauthorized transmissions. Although the station shut their rf STL down and went to a phone line STL, the FCC issued an NAL for $10k for transmission without a license.
7/18/13 – 73.1350 – Fellowshipworld’s WFWO, Medina NY, station was issued an NAL for $8k. The fine was doubled for the unauthorized broadcasting 36 miles from its licensed location, noting that after agreeing to turn off the offending transmitter, the station turned it back on. An excuse claiming the landlord was removing trees was rejected.
7/10/13 – 73.3526 – A station’s Public File must be available at the station’s Main Studio or properly designated location in the community. Locating them at a co-owned station in another city is not permitted. This led to a $25k NAL for Forfeiture from the FCC to two Western Slope stations in Rifle and Glenwood Springs, CO. KRGS and KRGV were both fined $10k for missing 20 of 27 quarterly Issues and Programs reports locally. And due to the number of missing reports, the fines were increased 25%.
6/27/13 – 73.3526 – Public File violations usually start at $10k. However, in a case where six years of Issues & Programs Lists were missing, the FCC reduced the fine to an NAL for Forfeiture for $1k for each station. Why did KXEO/KWWR, Mexico, MO merit this reduction? The Commission accepted the excuse that a former manager walked out with the files – and tried to sell them back to the station for $100k.
6/25/13 – 73.3539 – Someone at the FCC EB apparently got confused with “cut and paste” and has issued an NAL for $1,200 to translator K265AS Livingston, Montana for late filing on a Renewal application and operation without a license.
The only problem: The NAL lists an expiration date of October 2005 for a Renewal application due on April 1, 1998 – and asserts the licensee did not file for renewal until … December 2001.
Perhaps an “erratum” notice will be issued. Any guesses?
5/30/13 – 11.35, 17.50, 17.51, 73.1745 – Lack of an operating EAS receiver and logs work up the FCC Fine Machine woke up this morning with a lot of ca-chings. The unfortunate recipient of the NAL for Foreiture and Order is Pittman Broadcasting in Louisiana. Fines totalling $37.5k were issued for two Pittman stations, KVOL (AM) and WUUU-FM, including adjustments of about $7.5k.
At the time of inspection in 2012, the EAS receiver was inoperative. A claim of a recent lightning strike was rendered moot by the lack of EAS logs for some eight or nine months. Then there was the matter of the paint on the antenna was faded, and the beacon was out for 9 months, with no current FAA notication since the light failed. Add to that operating a 5 kW signal at night, when the license said 1 kW – oh, did we mention this is not the first time KVOL has been caught doing it? Result: $37.5k to pay to reduce the US deficit. At least that is how it looks on paper.
5/13/13 – A major gift to student-run NCEFM stations. The FCC has issued a Policy Statement and Order in connection with a William Penn University’s KIGC in Oskaloosa, IA. Recognizing that routine fines levied for some violations may exceed the total income of a station – and motivate colleges and universities to simply sell off their stations (only about 500 are left) – the Commission has set up a procedure where First Time Offenderscan sign a Consent Decree, set up a training program, make a $2,500 contribution to the US Treasury, and avoid a crippling fine.
For 230 Watt KIGC, it was candor on their License Renewal that got them into trouble – and generate the new policy. By admitting they failed to file some forms (Ownership) on time and others (Issues and Programs) were missing, they were almost guaranteed the FCC’s regular $8k to $10k NAL. The Consent Decree helped them get past this without going bankrupt.
After noting some of the recent cases where educational FMs were sold off, as well as that the entire year’s budget was $6,650, the FCC decided to issue the Policy Statement designed to helps similar student-run stations survive. The Policy is supposed to offer “one time” relief, not allowing for endless excuses. But student-run stations should understand both the benefits of this program – and the need to learn and perform the requirements for operating a radio station.
5/6/13 – 73.49, 73.3526, 73.1125 – Steckline Communications has received a total of $27k in fines from the FCC for fencing, Public File, and Main Studio violations. A $7k fine on an NAL for Forfeiture was issued for KIUL, Garden City, KS for a tower fence that was not considered secure. At their KYUL, Scott City, KS the FCC found no Main Studio with staff nor a Public File. Steckline shut the station down the next day, but the FCC found that they had operated over 14 months with no Main Studio nor Public File. The NAL for Forfeiture was augmented to $20k.
5/6/13 – 17.48, 17.51 – Towers registered under the FCC’s ASRN program remain under the FCC control, even if no broadcast station is on the tower. In Katy, TX, CenterPoint Energy received an NAL for Forfeiture for $10k regarding a tower which was unlit and not properly notifying the FAA – neither for the outage nor the completed repairs.
5/3/13 – 17.4, 17.50, 17.57 – An NAL and Forfeiture Order for $25k went out to Emeraldbrooke II LLC for a 91 meter antenna in Novi, MI that had no ASR number posted, faded paint, and the failure to notify the Commission of an ownership change about ten years ago. The $15k find was increased due to the “deliberate disregard for the Commission’s rules.”
5/3/13 – 73.49 – A Forfeiture Order for $7k was sent to JMK Communications’ WPWC in Dumfries, VA for a fencing violation. The original violation (7.18.12, below) stated that one of the four towers had no fence, the other there were “partial.” The Commission declined to reduce the fine after an excuse of “storm damage.”
5/2/12 – 11.35 – The Forfeiture Orders continue as the FCC seeks to close the books on several NALs in the past year or so. This time is for WMAF in Madison, FL for an inoperative EAS receiver (see 7/9/12, below). However, this station did get their $8k fine reduced to $3k by proving severe financial issues. However, the FCC did say that repeat offences would not receive repeat discounted fines.
(For those interested, the manpower at the EB currently seems to be focused on the very large number of citations frequently being issued for ‘illegal receipt of Lifeline Support cell service.’)
5/1/13 – 73.3526 – Forfeiture Orders for $10k were issued to two stations, denying their appeals against NALs over Issues & Programs lists (See 5/26/11, below, for more details and link to the original NAL). Stephen Peters, former licensee of WHAW in Lost Creek, WV and Della Jane Woofter, licensee of WVRW in Glenville, WV were cited for missing files. Both stations’ were co-located in Weston, WV where the station manager first said they had no files, then claimed the files were damaged in a storm and were still “drying out” … two months later. The FCC somewhat dryly noted that lists submitted to the FCC later did not show evidence of water damage.
4/22/13 – 73.503(d), 399B – WOBO(FM) in Batavia, OH was issued an NALF for $3k as part of a Memorandum Opinion and Order. The station was judged to have violated underwriting announcement rules multiple times, but the fine was moderated. Other issues in the MO&O appear to have stemmed from disagreements of Board members and were mostly dismissed, although the FCC has forwarded to the Department of Justice a note that the station did violate Section 1335 of US Code Title 15, relating to the broadcast of commercials for tobacco products – a commercial from a program recorded in the latge 1940s.
4/1/13 – Despite the date on the News Release, it appears the FCC has solved much of its backlog of indecency complaints by – are you ready? – dimissing over a million of them in the past six months. The Commission directed the Enforcement Bureau to pursue only the egregious cases and – wait for it! – has asked for comments on whether to keep the current policy or change it.
3/28/13 – 73.3527(c) – KCET in Los Angeles has entered into an Order and a Consent Decree with the FCC regarding incidents in 2011 (see 2/7/11 below), where entry to inspect the Public File was denied to a member of the public – who turned out to be an FCC Field Agent – citing “security issues.” After discussions with the FCC, KCET has agreed to implement some procedures and practices to prevent a reoccurrance. the station also will make a $6k “Voluntary Contribution” to the US Treasury.
3/26/13 – 73.3527 – Failure to allow timely access to the Public Information File was the main reason for a $10k NAL for Forfeiture, issued to CSSI in Weatherford, TX, on behalf of its six non-comm FMs based in Weatherford. There has been quite a bit of back and forth on this since 2008, but the FCC is holding CSSI liable.
3/20/13 – 303(q), 17.47, 17.51 – The FCC really does not have a lot of patience for stations that do not quickly take care of tower light failures. Cornerstone Television received an NAL for $15k – increased from $10k because the lights apparently were out for months at their tower in Brookville, PA – and there were conflicting stories trying to place the blame on a neighbor. (When arranging for a neighbor to do a daily visual inspection, it helps if there is an actual agreement, preferably written. But even that does not take the responsibility from the station.)
3/13/13 – A pirate station in Boston has been playing Haitian music and interfering with FAA air traffic communications has been completely shut down – US Marshalls came and seized the equipment. According to the Boston Globe, the station had move at least three times, trying to avoid authorities.
3/11/13 – 303(q), 17.47, 17.51, 17.57 – The failure to report a tower with malfunctioning lights, as well as not updating tower ownership records brought an NAL for $14k to Latin Broadcasting Co. in Dallas Center, IA. The station claimed a report to the FAA was made, but the Operations Manager did not understand the process due to language. Interestingly, the logs for dates the FCC knew the lights were out indicated no problems.
3/7/13 – 73.1350, 73.3526, 73.1590 – Entertainment Media Trust was presented with a Forfeture Order for $8,500 – reduced from $25K for infractions at St. Louis, MO area KZQZ was found to not be switching directional patterns, and with sister KQQZ missing Public Files and NRSC measurements. (Another NAL against sister stations WZQZ and WQQZ are also on deck.)
3/4/13 – 73.1216 – A Forfeiture Order for $4k was issued to Greater Boston Radio’s WJMX for “willful and repeated” violation of the FCC’s Contest Rules. In addition to having the rules only on a website, it turns out that the “free car” was only a two year lease – to someone who qualitifed for credit.
3/1/13 – 303(q), 17.47, 17.51 – There is proof the FCC does occasionally temper fines. Martin Broadcasting in Beaumont, TX received a Forfeiture Order for $8k, for tower lighting violations (see 6/5/12 below), a reduction of $2k, due to a record of previous compliance. The “poverty” excuse did not fly here, howerver.
2/28/13 – 73.3526 – Another set of fines are mounting for Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting in Casper, WY. Their four stations failed to put the Issues & Programs lists in the Public File for 23 consequent quarters. The $40k in fines were enhanced to $60k for KASS(FM), KQLT(FM), KHOC(FM), and KMLD(FM). The NALs included Forfeiture Orders.
This is the same cluster that got $63k in fines last July (7/26/12, below) for improper STL operation – for as long as 15 years.
2/11/13 – 73.1350, 74.1235 – Following up on a proceeding from last year, the FCC issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order reaffirming the fine levied April 23, 2012. Operating a translator as much as 280% over power and with a non-licensed antenna brought an NAL for $11k to the Ace of Hearts DJ Service in Cape Canaveral, FL. Protestations that the agents were wrong did not fly with the Commission.
2/11/13 – Section 301 – We do not post a lot on the continuing battle with the FCC finding and fining pirate broadcasters. However, a Forfeiture Order issued for $25k shows the FCC is losing patience with some repeat offenders – in this case a pirate who has operated for at least five years. Despite many pleas of everything from poverty (one previous fine was reduced from $20k to $500), undergoing bankruptcy, mail errors, typos, etc, etc, the Commission now points out that criminal prosecution and confiscation of equipment are next on the program. The question is: will this finally stop this person?
1/16/13 – 11.52, 11.61 – The EB continues to cite stations that are not monitoring the IPAWS OPEN CAP server. KKOV, Vancouver WA was given an NOV when a field agent observed the receiver “was offline from the FEMA’s IPAWS server.” With no logs to show reception from August through December, the NOV was issued.
1/9/13 – EAS ALERT: If you were wondering when the FCC was going to enforce the requirements for stations to monitor IPAWS OPEN CAP feeds, wonder no longer. An NOV was issued to KPRI, San Diego for not having records of monitoring the CAP feeds nor reasons why tests were not received.
1/4/13 – 15.1 – A transmitter made for Part 15 use was found out of band, and hence a non-permitted use. (This is a frequency band often used by broadcasters for unlicensed STL applications, for example.) After a complaint from the FAA, Directlink received an NAL for $25k for being 115 MHz below the authorized band – and interfering with some of the FAA’s radar gear.
1/3/13 – 73.3526 – As readers of this page know, Public File rule violations are among the most frequent reasons for Enforcement Bureau action. And the EB has started 2013 of with, you guessed it, a Public File rule violation. WEKC, Williamsburg, KY received an NAL for $15k for failure to keep the Issues & Programs lists. Seeing that this was a repeat offense was the reason for the extra $5000 in fines.