The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

FCC Enforcement Watch Archives: 2016

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.

12/30/16 – 303(q), 17.2317.48 17.50 – Failure to ensure their towers were lit and properly painted, and notifying the FAA when they were not – even after several visits by field agents – brought Pentecostal Temple Development Co.’s WGBN in Lincoln Borough, PA an NALF for $25kAs one might expect, the base fine was increased due to the station’s failure to do as promised.

11/4/16 – 73.3539 – Failure to file an acceptable renewal application in 2004 has brought an NALF for $13k to WINW, Canton, OH. A “red light” hold on the original application led to dismissal of the renewal application and the station operated without authorization until it filed an acceptable application in 2011. (The station has had a number of addition issues, including vandalism in February 2013, and loss of its transmitter site – and has operated with several STAs since.)

11/4/16 – 73.3539 – Failure to file a timely renewal application in 2013 has resulted in an NALF for $1.5k for KHQN, Spanish Fork, UT. Although late, the application was received before the license was to expire, so the FCC permitted the renewal, but assessed the $1.5k fine for the lateness.

10/28/16 – 303(q), – Hearing Designation Order was issued in the matter of KDND, Sacramento relating to a contest in January 2007 that led to the death of a listener/ participant. “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” encouraged participants to drink massive amounts of water without elimination, in order to win. As the contest progressed, the hosts increased the amount of water to drink and, eventually, this led to the death of Jennifer Strange. Entercom paid $16.8 million in a civil suit. And now the FCC wants to look at the event.

10/28/16 – 1.17, 1.65, 73.1015 303(q), – Another lengthy issue, one going at least back to 1988, involved Brian Dodge and stations and translators he has owned. According to the FCC, critical information was either withheld or otherwise “hidden” for years. The Order notes a $100k payment to the Treasury, cancellation of some licenses, approval of transfer of some others, and short term renewals.

9/23/16 – 73.1660 – The FCC had cited SCMS for illegal marketing of a transmitter from BW Broadcast that was not properly certified. However, after being questioned, the FCC Enforcement Bureau backed down. Bob Cauthen of SCMS explains why broadcasters need not worry about using BW Broadcast transmitters sold through SCMS. BW Broadcast CEO Scott Incz also addresses the issue.

8/11/16 – 73.1740 – Stations playing the clock against the FCC’s “one year” rule should be aware that the FCC does not view operating for one day a year – or several days – will justify being dark most of the time. The FCC’s Peter Doyle notes “Silence instead of licensed operation is a fundamental failure to serve station’s community of license because a silent station offers that community no public service programming such as news, public affairs, weather information and Emergency Alert System notifications.”

Doyle was specifically commenting upon the KLIM, Limon, CO situation, where the station spent most of the last four years off the air, sometimes with STAs, sometimes not. The FCC assessed a $5k fine and renewed the license for just two years.

In the Memorandum Opinion and Order, Doyle pressed the point: brief periods of station operation sandwiched between prolonged periods of silence are of little value because the local audience is not accustomed to tuning in to the station’s frequency.”

7/28/16 – 97.119 – Even Hams must do station IDs. The FCC has issued a fine of $1000 for failing to identify his station according to the Rules. David Tolassi was fined for not identifying within the 10 minute limit required.

7/21/16 – 73.561, 73.352773.3615 – A student-run station – WHYC, Swan Quarter, NC – facing $18k in fines for violations was allowed to sign a Consent Decree and Order for $2250 to resolve a number of serious violations: failure to notify the FCC if off the air for 10 days, failure to seek permission to stay off longer than 30 days, failure to maintain the Public Information file, and failure to file the biennial ownership reports.

6/20/16 – 73.352673.3615 – Failure to maintain the Public Information File and to submit the required Biennial Ownership Reports resulted in a Forfeiture Order for $12k and a short renewal term for Quetzal Bilingual Communications’ KURS in San Diego, CA. The station did not respond to the original NAL, so the FCC proceeded with the forfeiture, plus a short term renewal. The station license whill apparently now end in January 2017, unless a timely renewal application is not filed.

6/16/16 – 73.3526 – A station MUST allow a member of the public to view the Public Gile during business hours – at least until the current transition to online Public Files (OPIF) is accomplished. WQBQ, Leesburg, FL failed, in 2011, to immediately show the visitor the Public File. The visitor complained to the FCC, and also filed a Petition to Deny the license renewal. Five years later the Memorandum and Order and NALF has arrived: $15,000 and a two year renewal.

5/27/16 –73.3539 – Failure to file their renewal application on time in 2013 has brought an NALF for $1.5k to KFPZ-FM Lakeport, CA. The fine was reduced from $3k because the renewal application was filed before the license had expired.

5/23/16 – multiple items – Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting and the FCC finally reached agreement on a Consent Decree and Order, disposing of some $134.5k in fines for a series of violations, involving main studio staffing, public files, tower painting and lighting, and main and STL licensing. (See 2/28/13 and 7/26/12 below). Claiming inability to pay, the fines were reduced to $25k and committing to a compliance and monitoring plan. The Commission also noted that if it is found that Mt. Rushmore lied about anything, the whole fine comes back.

5/23/16 –73.3539 – Failure to file their renewal application on time in 2013 has brought an NALF for $1.5k to KDCQ(FM) Coos Bay, OR. The fine was reduced from $3k because the renewal application was filed before the license had expired.

3/6/16 – 73.3527 – Forfeiture Order for $10k was the FCC’s response to Peconic Public Broadcasting’s petition for a reduction in a fine related to a Baker’s Dozen of missing Issues & Program lists at WPPB in Southhampton, NY. The station tried everything from “it wasn’t our fault” to “We’re just too poor to pay,” but the FCC declined to give an inch – or a dollar – especially after the station failed to provide tax records that the FCC requested multiple times.

1/7/16 – 73.1212 – The trend of late for fewer but bigger actions from the EB continues with this one that landed on Cumulus. The FCC has issued an Order for a $540k Consent Decree over the failure of WOKQ, Dover NH to adequately identify the sponsor of some 2011 ads that supported the construction of a controversial electric transmission line. That $540k? That is three years of monthly payments of $15k. And there is a requirement that Compliance Plan be initiated with a Compliance Officer, etc. etc.