The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

FCC Enforcement Watch Archives: 2017

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.

12/23/17 – 74.1283 – Translators need to identify themselves at least three times a day. The NOV issued to the Association for Community Education‘s translator K295AI in Riverside, CA, observed it was not running ID’s as required. The NOV tells the owner to submit information explaining what happened and what it will do to prevent re-occurance.

12/22/17 – 17.6, 17.4717.48 – We have mentioned this before: tower owners – often radio stations – are supposed to notify the FAA right away and arrange for repairs. The owners of a tower in Channing, TX, received an NOV for not only having lights out, but telling the FCC they were not aware – that their monitoring service did not inform them nor the FAA. The FCC is demanding an explanation and may issue a fine.

12/21/17 – 73.1212 – A big fine against Sinclair Broadcast. The NALF for $13,376,200 was issued for failing to identify the sponsor of some 1700 items that were run as if they were news items. There was a rift with FCC Commissioners about how big a fine they wanted, with the Commission settling for doubling the base fine.

12/15/17 – 1.1910 and 0.283 – A formerly licensed station is now “unlicensed” and is warned further broadcasts will be treated as “pirate” broadcasts. DWCAZ, Carthage IL, was stripped of a license in May (see 5/22/17 below).

12/14/17 – 1.89 – The Rules say you have to operate as licensed. K253AN, Austin TX, was only 13 miles from their authorized site, 214 meters higher than permitted, along with Transmitter Power Output 15% over the authorized power. The NOV issued to Westface Ventures LLC requires an explanation and plan for correction.

12/13/17 – 73.1225 – Do not turn the lights out yet. The FCC still expects someone to be home when they call at the Main Studio. WDJS in Mount Olive NC received an NOV when agents came and found no one home. Additionally, the FCC says WDJS was transmitting from a tower about four miles from its authorized location – and the FCC is expecting an interesting explanation.

12/12/17 – 73.2080 – EEO Rules tripped up the Cumulus cluster in Myrtle Beach, SC, leading to an NALF for $20k. Some of the violations go back to 2008 with some being repeated, leading the FCC to add $4k to the original $16k fine.

12/6/17 – 73.352673.1740 – An Order and a $20k donation to the US Treasury should bring to a close problems at KRIT, Parker, AZ. The FCC determined that a number of required items were missing from the Public File, and the station had provided misleading information to the FCC. The station was also dark longer than permitted.

12/5/17 – 74.1231 – It took over five years, but the EB has finally issued an NAL for $4k to TEA-VISZ, operator of translator W272AY in Park Falls, WI. There were several allegations against the renewal application, but the one that stuck was the translator originating its own programming. The company says they were unable to run the football games on the main station – and blamed the engineer – but the Commission did not accept that as a valid excuse but did not accept the other accusations.

9/7/17 – 73.84073.877 – It has become too easy – and relatively inexpensive – to buy transmitters well in excess of licensed power. The problem is: you cannot do that! Unfortunately, a number of LPFM stations, disappointed with their coverage, have decided to just “turn the power up.” Now, the FCC is catching some of them. An NOV for overpower was issued to WFBS-LP in Salem, SC. Licensed TPO: 50 Watts. Operating TPO: 300 Watts. 600% overpower. The station tried to hide it, but the log in the transmitter showed it running 300 Watts until immediately prior to the inspection, when it was turned down to 50 Watts. (This sort of flagrant violation should pull a fine!) Another case involves an NOV issued to KDEL-LP in SacramentoLicensed TPO: 86 Watts. Operating TPO: 209 Watts, or 240% of licensed values. The station also was not at the address on the license.

8/15/17 – The FCC is living up to its promise to attack pirate stations. A dozen citations in the list week along, and it seems few weeks pass without three to five more added. Of course, controlling pirate stations is like a whack-a-mole project, with few having the enough money to pay the fines, should they get caught. But, we will have to give the FCC at least one “atta-boy” for their efforts.

8/3/17 – A Randy Michaels-owned station almost was a test case in an FCC crackdown for stations that had spent more time off the air via STAs than actually on the air. WRAX was one of those stations, with limited siting and NIMBY neighbors. Hence, the station went on the air for a short period each year (one day a year for seven years).
What is especially interesting from an observer’s viewpoint is that Michaels paid for the license in Auction 37 – $169,650. This is in contrast to most licensee, who got their license by simply applying. Some folks have opined that by buying the CP/License, the station had a greater expectation of renewal than most stations and that, if it went to court, the FCC might have less control over such stations. However, no precedent was set this time, as Michaels turned in the license rather than spend more money on a station with limited potential.

7/26/17 – 73.135073.156011.52 – An NOV to KSVG, Mettler CA, contains allegations that the station was not operating at licensed power, was not monitoring EAS properly, and – this is the big one! – moved the transmitter over 28 miles without authorization two years ago. A tip-off: the station was poorly heard in its City of License. One can only wonder what fine will be proposed on this one.

7/19/17 – 11.15, 11.35(a), 11.52, 73.3527, 73.1840, 73.1125(a), 73.1870, 73.1400, 73.1015, 1.89 – a whole raft full of violations by KIBH-FM in Seward, AK led to an NAL for #66k, $50k in base fines and a $16k augmentation for repeatedly ignoring the FCC communications. Violations of EAS issues include improper settings, despite warnings from field agents, along with missing EAS records. Then there were other violations like Main Studio violations, Public File violations, lack of a Chief Operation designation, and failure to ensure operations within authorization. The FCC did take time to admonish the station for failing to respond to their letters, increasing the fine by $16k.

7/14/17 – 73.3539 – Failure a renewal application three months late, led to an NALF and $1.5k fine to WVCD, Bamberg-Denmark SC. The Renewal Application was due on August 1, 2011, but not filed until November 9, 2011. But since the application

7/6/17 – 1.1910 and 0.283 – This week’s “D” story concerns DKCKY, Coolidge AZ. As with other stations that did not pay an FCC fee and ignored a letter and a phone call, DKCKY was ordered off the air

6/26/17 – 1.1910 and 0.283 – And another “D” has been awarded. This time DWNPZ, Knoxville TN, was told its license was deleted and to terminate broadcasts immediately.

6/19/17 – 1.1910 and 0.283 – Another “D” has been awarded, to DWKMB, Stirling, NJ. As with similar cases in the past month, the FCC sent letters in 2015 that had no response, nor was the FCC successful in telephoning the station in January. Again, the result was an immediate suspension of the license – and an admonishment to maintain tower markings until the tower is pulled down.

6/14/17 – Weber State University’s KWCR-FM in Ogden Utah received a renewal of license despite several Petitions to Deny and accusations of violations. In the Memorandum Opinion and Order, the FCC dismissed some objections and notes several actual violations by the station, off-the-air since November 3, 2015. The resulting MO&O for $9.3k also admonishes the station and requires it to put a program into place to avoid future problems.

6/12/17 – 1.1910 and 0.283 – “D Season” continues. This time Nievezquez Productions failed to respond to verbal or written “Red Light” notices from the FCC that they owed money. As a result the station, now DWPRX, Bristol CT, was ordered off the air immediately. Interestingly, this is the second time the “D” was placed on the station, but the first time they managed to get reinstated.

6/7/17 – 1.1910 and 0.283 – If you think there recently have been more licenses deleted due to past due amounts at the FCC, you would be right (see 5/22/17 below). WJTB, North Ridgeville, OH got the dreaded “D” this week due to failure to pay. Taylor Broadcasting was sent a “Red Light Letter” as a warning, but did not respond. When Staff tried calling, the listing phone had been disconnected. DWJTB has now been ordered off the air.

5/30/17 – 325(a), 11.45 – Just barely over two years since the FCC hit iHeart with a $1 million civil penalty and required compliance program, the Enforcement shoe has dropped on TEGNA, licensee of WTLV, Jacksonville, FL. The issue again is misuse of EAS tones. WTLV ran an advertisement for the local NFL team, which used simulated EAS tones and an announcement that “this is not a test.” A WTLV staffer noticed the ad on its fourth run and notified management, but the four runs resulted in the ORDER and $55k fine (and a compliance plan!!!).

5/30/17 – 73.49, 73.156073.130073.1820 – Hot on the heels of an NOV (5/17/17 below) dealing with tower light operation, a multipart NOV was issued to KCKY, Coolidge, AZ after an inspection. The station had tower base fences that were not locked, was not running authorized power (at some points only 10%), the studio/transmitter control point was not secure, and there was no EAS log. The FCC is collecting more information, so more items may develop.

5/26/17 – 312(g) – Some companies try to find that space between “the letter of the law” and “the intent of the law” to avoid regular operations. STAs are often strung together to keep stations off the air for long periods of time, either to put off maintenance or in hopes of selling the facility.

One of the companies that has become a bit infamous for this game is Cochise Broadcasting (and several iterations of similar names), run by Ted Tucker. In two sharply worded ORDERs, The Commission stripped Cochise of its license for KXMK, Oatman, AZ, noting that since January 2014, the station operated, by Cochise’s admission, at most three days. The ORDER states the license – and equipment – is to be given to a non-profit entity or surrendered.

21 additional Cochise stations were put on notice to donate at least 10 licenses and either operate or similarly donate or surrender the remaining licenses. A revealing chart is included showing operations of as little as one day (a couple show “0”), over several years.

5/22/17 – 1.1910 and 0.283 – It is dangerous to ignore letters from the FCC, or fail to tell them of a phone number change.

A station in Senatobia, MS, WSAO, now has the dreaded D: DWSAO, for failing to acknowledge letters telling them they were on the “Red Light” list – stations that owed money to the FCC for one reason or another. In this case, the license renewal was dismissed, and the station ordered off the air.

Another “Red Light” situation leaves Carthage, IL station with the big “D”: DWCAZ. Ralla Broadcasting apparently failed to pay FCC fees and did not respond to communication efforts. The Commission then pulled the license.

And a third one this week: DKFVR(AM), Crescent City, CA was also notified this week that unpaid fees led to the loss of license. The Commission did try to contact by mail and by phone, unsuccessfully.

5/17/17 – 17.6, 17.4717.48 – Properly operating tower lights are required for air safety – to warn pilots of metal stacked hundreds of feet high. When lights fail, tower owners – often radio stations – are supposed to notify the FAA right away and arrange for repairs. The owners of KCKY, Coolidge, AZ, received an NOV for not only having lights out on two towers, but telling the FCC they were not aware they were supposed to check each day or notify the FAA. Might one suppose an NALF could be next?

5/11/17 – This is a strange one – but further show why inattention to the status of one’s FCC license is dangerous: an LPTV apparently operated for some 18 years after its license expired due to no renewal application being filed. The FCC has issued an NALF for $144,344 (the maximum) for deleted D10BM in Morehead, KY. The station offered couple of excuses, but the FCC pretty quickly rejected them.

5/11/17 – 312(g) – Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting is another company with a long series of mis-steps in terms of compliance with the FCC (See 5/23/16, 2/28/13, and 7/26/12, below). This particular action concerns a letter deleting KAWK(FM) Custer, SD , for failure to properly file and update authorizations. The letter describes long periods of STAs for Silent, operating only 39 days in one 3.5 year period, and by failing to live up to the terms of the existing STAs, effectively lost the station in late October 2009. Considering the unauthorized operation for the last 7.5 years, the Commission chose to issue the “D” (DKAWK), deleting the station. No other specific fine was imposed.

4/5/17 – 1.80 – Is indecent language OK if not in English? WSKQ-FM, New York was cited for broadcasts in 2005 that contained indecent material. Other allegations included hoax material (which was not upheld). This held up the 2006 license renewal and the 2014 license renewal. To close the issue a $10k Consent Decree has been issued. The Media Bureau wants all licensees to be aware of what their station broadcasts – not being in English is no excuse for indecency.

3/16/17 – 73.3540 – Unauthorized transfer of control is not common – it usually involves an LMA or some such arrangement. That is the case in Lake Isabella and Kernville, CA. Katherine Bohn, owner of three stations was given an ORDER and Consent Degree for an $8k civil penalty , related to an LMA without her having staff presence at the station and very late filing for transfer of control.

3/8/17 – 73.503 – An ORDER brings to a close an action against an LPFM station in Florida (WVVF-LP, Town N’ Country, FL) based on accusations by a commercial broadcaster. Beasley Broadcast had accused WVVF for running a standard commercial message on a non-comm station and playing only music (instead of educational programs). The ORDER includes a Consent Degree with a $2k “civil penalty” to be paid to the US Treasury, the license granted to WVVF, and a warning “don’t do it again.”

3/1/17 – 73.3526 – The FCC now requires Public File entries for most stations to be on the FCC website, and when they are not, a fine will happen. This one also includes the stations self-reporting its failure in the license renewal. An NAL for $7k followed.